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Treatment for Joint Pain Caused by Levaquin

It’s frustrating to take medications to treat one of your health issues, only to experience side effects that are potentially disabling and permanent. In this case, Levaquin – an antibiotic prescribed for bacterial infections like pneumonia and bronchitis – has possible drug interactions and possible serious side effects. Joint pain is only one of the many side effects that could occur from taking the antibiotic. 

So what are the different types of treatment for joint pain caused by Levaquin? The solutions range from medications to home remedies: over-the-counter products, applying ice or heat, compression, elevation, and exercise. Remember to talk to your doctor before trying any remedies for your joint pain.

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Levaquin Joint Pain Treatment

Research shows that about 14% of those who take fluoroquinolone antibiotics experience muscle and joint pain. In fact, the proponents discovered that levofloxacin (the generic term for Levaquin) was more likely to cause the pain as compared to other medications in the same drug class. Symptoms started to manifest three days after taking the antibiotic, but were resolved in seven days after discontinued use.

1) Calling a Doctor Immediately

Before anything, consult your doctor. The joint pain that you’re feeling might not be caused by an antibiotic. Your doctor may also consider further evaluation of the risks versus benefits posed by Levaquin or perhaps recommend discontinuation of medication intake.

2) Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medications and Products

Your doctor may recommend one or more over-the-counter medications to help with pain relief. To name a few:

3) Home Remedies

While a healthcare provider can prescribe medications to relieve joint pain, they may also recommend natural approaches:

  • Apply ice or heat to the affected area
  • Compress the joint with a wrap or brace
  • Elevate the joint above chest level

4) An Appropriate Exercise Program

If you’re on Levaquin, avoid working out until your doctor recommends an appropriate exercise program. Because while medications like antibiotics prevent certain cells in your body from multiplying, they can also stop the tendons from repairing themselves. 

That’s why physical therapy, as well as physical activity, is beneficial as it stretches and fortifies the affected muscle-tendon unit. Furthermore, extra weight puts more pressure on your joints – most especially on your feet, knees, and hips – so exercise can help you manage some of that weight. 

Why Does Levaquin Cause Joint Pain?

Joint pain is a commonly reported side effect of Levaquin, the brand name for levofloxacin and a product by Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Levofloxacin is commonly prescribed for serious infections such as bacterial pneumonia, Lyme disease, skin infection, urinary tract infection, sinus infection, kidney infection, certain types of plague, and to prevent anthrax. It’s not made for viruses (the common cold, the flu, and the like). 

How Does Levofloxacin Work?

Levaquin belongs to a family of drugs that are known collectively as fluoroquinolones – other antibiotics include ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and moxifloxacin (Avelox). This drug class blocks enzymes that are necessary for bacterial growth. Its dosage depends on the type of infection being treated, the patient’s age and weight, how the antibiotic will be administered, as well as interactions with other drugs.

Levaquin is a multipurpose medication that comes in a variety of forms. So whether it is administered in pill form, levofloxacin injection, or through the intravenous route, it disrupts the ability of certain types of bacteria to replicate in multiple organ systems.

Levaquin is effective against many types of bacteria, particularly E. coli, S. aureus, and S. pneumoniae. It works by directly interfering with bacterial DNA enzymes, specifically topoisomerase IV and DNA gyrase, that are essential in DNA processes. 

These enzymes help build bacterial DNA but also break it. Levaquin enhances their DNA-breaking qualities and turns them into toxic compounds that can later poison the cells. Using an antibiotic when it’s unnecessary increases your risk of getting an infection that can resist antibiotic treatments.

Other Side Effects

Although it’s an effective antibiotic, it has a lot of adverse effects attached, so Levaquin isn’t available over-the-counter. It is a prescription medicine; only a healthcare provider can prescribe it to you. 

Knowing the risks and benefits of Levaquin before taking it is non-negotiable. Both patients and their respective healthcare provider must make an informed decision regarding its consumption. Now even if your antibiotic is working, you may still experience some strong and potentially permanent side effects. There are two general categories of side effects:

  • Physical: tendon pain, tendon rupture, achilles heel pain, achilles tendonitis, achilles tendon rupture, muscle pain, bone pain, loss of dexterity, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, itching, stomach pain, constipation, drooping eyelids, skin rash, nosebleed, hives, vaginal itching and/or discharge, allergic reaction, burning pain in your limbs, dangerous bleeding of the aorta, etc.
  • Mental: serious mood or behavior changes, mild or severe anxiety, claustrophobia, brain fog, lightheadedness, hallucinations, nightmares, sleep disorder, depression, immune hypersensitivity reaction, dementia, etc.

This is not a comprehensive list of all the possible side effects of taking levofloxacin. Although should any of these happen to you, get emergency medical help right away.

What Exactly Causes the Side Effects of Levaquin?

There are 3 general levels of severity:

  • Massive nutritional depletion: An antibiotic medicine like Levaquin can deplete nutrients in your body such as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamin K, and certain B vitamins. 
  • Damage to mitochondrial population in connective tissue: The mitochondria – popularly known as the powerhouse of the cell – keeps your cells alive. For some reason, Levaquin targets degeneration of the tendon and other connective tissues and subsequently kills off the mitochondria. 
  • DNA damage in connective tissue: Depending on one’s dosage, as well as a multitude of other factors, a person on Levaquin may experience tendon damage. One of the worst case scenarios is that your body fails to recover.

Precautions and Risk Factors

Before committing to any treatment, always inform your doctor about any preexisting medical conditions or allergies that you may have, medications that you’re taking, and if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Some people are more prone to getting muscle and joint pain caused by Levaquin – risk factors include but aren’t limited to:

  • Age is over 60 years old
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Peripheral neuropathy (nerves of the skin and limbs)
  • History of myasthenia gravis (muscle weakness)
  • History of kidney, heart, or lung transplants
  • History of tendon-related problems like rheumatoid arthritis
  • History of liver problems
  • Allergy to other fluoroquinolones
  • Use of multiple antibiotics
  • weakened immune systems
  • History of QT prolongation
  • History of arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems)
  • Low potassium levels
  • Use of insulin
  • Taking levofloxacin for a non-bacterial infection
  • Use of steroid medicine
  • Had an organ transplant

After taking Levaquin, the medication may affect your reactions. Avoid driving, operating machinery, or partaking in any hazardous activity that requires alertness and coordination. Avoid prolonged or unnecessary sunlight exposure, as well as tanning beds, because Levaquin may cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight or ultraviolet rays. Should you need to be outdoors, wear protective clothing and sunscreen (at least SPF 30).

Drugs That Interact With Levaquin

Taking Levaquin with other medicines simultaneously – may it be non-prescription, vitamins, herbal, or dietary supplements – may keep the antibiotic from working correctly. These are some of the most common drug interactions with levofloxacin:

Interacting DrugInteraction 
NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen, diclofenac, or naproxen)Convulsions and increased risk of central nervous system effects and seizures
Theophylline Fatal reactions
Coumadin (warfarin) and other anticoagulant drugsMay cause you to bleed more easily
Antidiabetic drugsLoss of control of blood sugar levels and sometimes hypoglycemia
Videx (didanosine) powder or chewable tabletsPyrexia among females and anemia among males
Vitamin or mineral supplements (containing iron, magnesium, zinc, or aluminum)Blocks absorption of levofloxacin in the bloodstream
Methotrexate Methotrexate toxicity
Phenytoin Increase in phenytoin levels
Antidiabetic agentsHyperglycemia and hypoglycemia
Drugs that prolong QT interval (amiodarone)Increased risk of cardiac events

Some medicines can also interact with certain food. Ask your doctor on what specific food items you should exclude from your diet.

Has Levaquin Been Discontinued?

Yes, Janssen Pharmaceuticals has discontinued the manufacturing of Levaquin since December 2017. According to this pharmaceutical company, they decided to pull the plug since there were several other alternative antibiotics and that they were shifting their focus to developing innovative medicines. 

However, there were over three thousand lawsuits filed against them and the parent company, Johnson & Johnson. The plaintiffs were victims who took Levaquin and suffered severe side effects – such as aortic aneurysms and tendon ruptures – and debilitating injuries resulting in nerve damage.

Even before the lawsuits were filed, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already issued a black box warning for the serious risks linked to fluoroquinolones like Levaquin. 

A black box warning is the highest safety-related warning given by the FDA to alert public and health care providers of a medication’s adverse effects. The FDA advised that fluoroquinolone use should be a last-minute resort; it should only be given to those who do not have alternative treatment options.

Alternatives to Levaquin

Spilled pills.

Levaquin may be gone, but it’s not the only fluoroquinolone antibiotic out there that can tend to your bacterial infection concerns. While the generic version of the drug (levofloxacin) is still widely available, here are some alternatives:

Brand NameGeneric FormDescription
CiprociprofloxacinCipro can treat a similar scope of infections and cause similar side effects. It is also a fluoroquinolone antibiotic.
AveloxmoxifloxacinBoth Avelox and Levaquin can treat different bacterial infections.
Bactrimsulfamethoxazole/trimethoprimIt has a chemical composition that can cause severe skin reactions.
ZithromaxazithromycinZithromax is from the drug class “macrolide antibiotics”. It may also cause liver and heart rhythm issues. 
KeflexcephalexinIt’s part of the drug class “cephalosporins”. Aside from the infections treated by levofloxacin, Keflex can be prescribed for bone infections.
Biaxin XLclarithromycinBiaxin treats most common respiratory infections.
AmoxilAmoxicillinThis is a penicillin type of antibiotic. It’s also a cheaper alternative.
PenetrexenoxacinIt’s a prescription medicine that can also treat bacterial infections like gonorrhea and urinary tract infections.
NoroxinnorfloxacinNoroxin is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections of the prostate and urinary tract.
FloxinofloxacinOfloxacin is one of the quinolone antibiotics. It’s usually used to treat bacterial infections in the outer ear and middle ear.

It’s best to consult with a healthcare provider on which levofloxacin alternative is most suitable for you.

Receive Joint Pain Treatment at aNu Aesthetics

Joint pain doesn’t mean that you have to stop enjoying your day-to-day life. You can always find a way to treat it – may that be rest, home care solutions, or perhaps a medical solution recommended by a doctor. A procedure may be necessary if your symptoms are serious. You might want to consider consulting with the doctors at aNu Aesthetics for an accurate diagnosis.

At aNu Aesthetics, we’ll figure out the root cause of your joint pain. Should it be antibiotics like Levaquin, rest assured that our doctors will find the best remedy, as well as maximize the power of functional medicine to relieve the pain. We’re dedicated to helping our patients incorporate lifestyle changes in their day-to-day lives to reach optimal wellness. Book an appointment with our healthcare practitioners today.

Rewind The Clock Both Outside And In

Regenerative therapy has helped countless patients look and feel like the person they were years before. Call us today to book your regenerative therapy consultation.


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