- Ozempic is an injectable medication that helps to lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
- Some rare side effects of Ozempic can cause fluid build-up in the legs, which may feel similar to joint pain.
- No confirmed cases of joint pain are associated with Ozempic. Other diabetes medications (DDP-4 Inhibitors) have demonstrated joint pain side effects.
- Additional medical testing, exercises, weight loss, and dietary changes can help relieve joint pain.
Ozempic is an injectable medication for people with type 2 diabetes to help control their blood sugar levels. This medication is generally prescribed if metformin, diet, and exercise have not effectively lowered blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1C.
Ozempic is a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RAs). The generic name for Ozempic is semaglutide. Long-acting once-weekly Ozempic has been found to work especially well at reducing overnight and fasting blood sugar levels and hemoglobin A1C.
GLP-1 RAs work in the following ways:
- Enhance insulin secretion in response to high blood sugar levels and help you to return to healthy range blood sugar levels.
- Stop glucagon secretion, which reduces the blood sugar generated by the body.
- Slow the rate at which the stomach empties, preventing high blood sugar levels after meals.
- Lower calorie intake by reducing appetite, increasing fullness, and slowing gastric transit time, leading to weight loss.
While Ozempic has positive effects, all medications can have less favorable side effects. Ozempic works similarly to DPP-4 inhibitors that have been found to cause joint pain. A study on 134,488 veterans found that 8.4% were taking DPP-4 inhibitors, and 11.7% were diagnosed with joint pain.
In this article, you’ll learn about the side effects of Ozempic, any links to joint pain, and ways to reduce joint pain.
Connect with a dietitian with Nourish to manage diabetes, nutrition, and weight loss (covered by insurance). Joint pain and diabetes can improve with weight loss and a customized nutrition plan through Nourish. Book your first appointment today.
Side Effects of Ozempic
Most Common Side Effects
The following were the most commonly reported side effects from individuals taking Ozempic: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and constipation. Between 5 and 20% of people reported some of these side effects.
Gastrointestinal(GI) side effects are common when starting GLP-1 RAs or increasing the dosage. Most people have a resolution of the GI symptoms spontaneously while still taking the medication.
Other Side Effects
Other GI side effects at a lower rate were reported, including dyspepsia (upset stomach), gas, burping, reflux, and gastritis (irritated stomach lining) can occur.
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) was reported more often when taking other diabetes medications like metformin or insulin.
Less common effects included injection site reactions (0.2% of people), increased amylase and lipase lab values (signs of pancreatitis), gallstones (0.4 to 1.5% of people), a slight 2-3 beat per minute heart rate increase, taste changes, dizziness, and fatigue.
Ozempic has a warning on the manufacturer's website stating severe side effects. They include:
- Possibly thyroid tumors, including medullary thyroid cancer. If a family history of MTC is noted, Ozempic should not be used.
- Pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas).
- Diabetic retinopathy complications (damage to the blood vessels of the eyes).
- Acute kidney injury or failure.
- Acute gallbladder disease (swelling of the gallbladder).
- Hypersensitivity of allergic reactions.
- Low blood sugar with the use of insulin or sulfonylureas.
Of note, joint pain is not listed as a side effect of Ozempic. Other diabetes medications have confirmed joint pain side effects.
Nourish can connect you with a Registered Dietitian with the CDCES certification. A CDCES can help you understand how your diabetes medications work. If you need help managing your diabetes, consider booking a virtual appointment today.
Can Ozempic Cause Joint Pain?
No studies have found a link between Ozempic and joint pain. However, some rare side effects from Ozempic might cause symptoms of joint pain.
Acute kidney injury and pancreatitis can cause a rare side effect, fluid accumulation in the legs. This might cause someone to think they have joint pain when their legs are swelling.
A doctor should monitor kidney function for individuals with impaired kidneys to prevent complications like acute kidney injury. Additionally, Ozempic should be stopped if any pancreatitis symptoms occur, per the manufacturer's prescribing information.
How to Relieve Joint Pain
Contact Your Doctor with New or Worsened Pain
If you find yourself with new or worsened joint pain, seek out the care of your doctor. Your doctor can help look at the whole picture, including medications and health conditions. They can order tests or lab values to determine the source of your joint pain or any new health conditions.
At-Home Joint Pain Relief
The Arthritis Foundation provides a head-to-toe guide to help relieve different types of joint pain. Certain types of inflammatory joint pain, like rheumatoid arthritis, require whole-body treatment to reduce the pain.
Other types of joint pain relief include splints, moist heat, modifications to daily life or sleeping, and targeted exercises to help the problematic locations. Safe and modified movement can alleviate pain. A physical therapist can help you learn how to move safely and strategies for reducing joint pain.
Losing weight can help reduce joint pain. A study of 142 overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis (OA) found that four pounds of pressure on the knees were reduced for every pound of weight loss.
Another study found that further weight loss relieved joint pain in 240 overweight and obese adults with knee OA. The group losing more than 20% of their starting body weight had 25% less pain, improved knee function, and quality of life than those losing 5 or 10% of their original body weight.
Changing your diet can aid in alleviating joint pain. A systematic review of 19 studies, including 326 people with rheumatoid arthritis, found that anti-inflammatory diets resulted in lower pain levels than regular diets.
Anti-inflammatory diets are high in omega-3 fats, fiber, fruits, and vegetables and lower in refined carbohydrates and sugars. The diets reviewed in this study included Mediterranean, vegetarian, vegan, and ketogenic diets. All resulted in lower pain levels. Consider meeting with a dietitian to determine an appropriate eating style for your lifestyle and health concerns.
Nourish offers personalized nutrition counseling and can help you create a custom eating plan to help with weight loss or pain relief. If you’re ready to take the next step in your health, consider booking a virtual appointment with a Registered Dietitian.
Managing diabetes medications and their side effects with a healthcare team is essential for your health. Ozempic has not been associated with causing joint pain. Some less common side effects of Ozempic can cause excess fluid in the legs, which might feel similar to joint pain.
Joint pain should be discussed with your doctor and medical team. Joint pain can be relieved by exercises, daily life modifications, weight loss, and nutrition changes.
Manage Weight and Diabetes with an RD
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Nourish has a team of dietitians available for online appointments. Every dietitian is covered by insurance; many specialize in diabetes and weight loss. Book your first appointment today.
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