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Prescription weight loss medications: Can they cause joint pain?

Key Takeaways

Key takeaways

  • Weight loss medications are not associated with increased joint pain, and may even improve joint pain symptoms.
  • For joint pain unrelated to weight loss medications, common over-the-counter painkillers are safe to use.

Could weight loss medications be a pain?

No direct link has been shown between GLP-1 weight loss medications like semaglutide (also known as Ozempic or Wegovy) and new or increased joint pain symptoms. 

In fact, since living in a larger body can sometimes contribute to joint pain, for some people, the opposite may be true. As weight loss progresses and the stress on joints is reduced, some people may experience pain reduction while using these medications. 

Okay, but what about inflammation?

Another common contributing factor to joint pain is inflammation. 

If your body is producing an inflammatory response non-stop, even when the initial source of danger is gone, it’s known as chronic inflammation. This consistent inflammatory response can be painful, and may even damage healthy tissue.

Studies so far show that weight loss medications may lower inflammation (The Lancet). That’s because weight loss in general, whether achieved with the use of weight-loss medications or not, reduces low-grade chronic inflammation. This may be another way in which weight loss meds help to reduce joint pain. 

The low-down on weight-loss meds, joint health, and bone density

The latest data indicate that GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) like semaglutide, Ozempic, or Wegovy have a neutral effect on bone health and rates of bone fracture (Medicina). However, there is some indication that they may improve bone density over time by impacting bone metabolism, allowing more bone to build up. Further studies are needed to confirm this.

Keep the ache at bay: managing joint pain while using weight loss medications

While weight loss medications won’t cause joint pain, you may still experience it due to other underlying causes. In this case, the regular joint health advice you followed before taking your new medication still applies. Talk to your physiotherapist, orthopedist, or other licensed healthcare practitioner about medical and lifestyle interventions you can use to improve your joint pain, like low-impact physical activity and diet modifications.

Over-the-counter pain medications don’t typically interact with weight loss medications, but always check with your pharmacist to confirm that you can safely manage pain by using the pain meds you’re familiar with. 

Have more burning questions about semaglutide and other medications? Check out the Felix blog for more information. If you think prescription weight loss treatment might be right for you, start an online visit with Felix to see if you qualify.

Note: When we refer to weight loss medications, we specifically mean a class of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists. These are drugs that mimic a naturally occurring hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1. They work by regulating hunger signals in the brain and slowing down the rate at which the stomach empties after a meal, increasing the feeling of fullness. 

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