Are muscle aches from statins really due to the nocebo effect?
By Maryanne Demasi, PhD and Paula Byrne, PhD.
Doctors report that over 20% of their patients complain of muscle symptoms after statin therapy. However, in blinded randomised trials, people taking statins do not report more muscle pain than people taking a placebo.
Researchers have tried to explain why real world data are at odds with what happens in clinical trials.
Muscle aches from statins are often blamed on the ‘nocebo’ effect, that is, when people experience adverse symptoms because of their negative expectations or perceptions of a treatment.
So, two studies specifically designed to test the ‘nocebo’ effect [known as individual n-of-1 trials] were carried out by recruiting people who’d stopped taking their statins because of perceived muscle pain.