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Does Ozempic Cause Muscle and Joint Pain?

There are a lot of medications on the market today that are designed to help folks lose extra weight and tackle being obese. Obesity is one of the most common conditions experienced by both adults and children in the U.S., and the percentage of the population dealing with this has increased. From 2017-2020 the obesity prevalence increased to 41.9%, which also means the risk of developing other chronic conditions like diabetes, stroke, some cancers, and heart disease have also gone up.

In order to help combat this issue, several companies began developing drugs that specifically help with weight loss and the complications from type 2 diabetes. One of those drugs that came to the forefront was Ozempic. But what is Ozempic, and if you’re taking it, what can you expect some of the side effects to be?

In today’s article, we’re covering those topics and more including:

  • Is Ozempic hard on the body?
  • Does Ozempic contribute to muscle and joint pain?
  • What are other common causes of pain and inflammation in the body?

What is Ozempic and is it hard on the body?

Is this medication right for you and what can it do to your body?

A box of ozempic injection
It’s important to keep in mind there can be some side effects to Ozempic. Image courtesy of ABC News.

Ozempic was approved by the FDA to treat type 2 diabetes in 2017 and it is also known as semaglutide. It helps those folks with diabetes by helping the pancreas create more insulin, which can lower blood sugar. Diabetics need to constantly be aware of their blood sugar levels, and before this once a week injectable medication, they often needed to rely on using insulin injections instead. If your blood sugar gets too high or too low, it can cause serious issues with the brain, kidneys, and heart.

Ozempic mimics a naturally occurring hormone that tells the pancreas to create more insulin, which also results in your brain thinking you’re more full. This is why one of the most common side effects of this medication was weight loss, as patients found they were eating less. When on this prescription, the body is properly processing food and insulin, so those taking this drug also benefit from the slow down in their digestive system and feeling fuller for longer. 

Ozempic is still prescribed as a medication for type 2 diabetics, but because of the weight loss side effect, the same manufacturer created another semaglutide Wegovy (approved by the FDA in 2021) specifically for weight loss purposes. It contains a higher amount of the medication that tells your brain you’re full and slows down the time it takes for your food to be digested. Lots of people have had success losing weight on this medication, however it is essential that you maintain your weekly injections to keep the weight off. Once people stop taking Ozempic/Wegovy, they tend to gain the weight back. 

Side effects of Ozempic

The most common side effects (besides weight loss) of a semaglutide like Ozempic or Wegovy are:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Bloating

Most patients experience all, some, or none of these side effects while they’re on semaglutide. However, in some cases, Ozempic can be hard on the body and people experience more severe issues. Some more serious side effects of taking this class of drug can include thyroid issues, pancreatitis, changes in vision, gallbladder issues, and kidney problems. Because Ozempic and Wegovy work to slow down the digestive system, some folks find that the mild gastrointestinal issues mentioned above can turn quite severe. Chronic abdominal pain or diarrhea can be difficult to manage, and can cause a lot of stress and anxiety.

Another issue that’s not commonly discussed is that because these drugs suppress your appetite, people find that they’re not getting the nutrients and calories they need from food because they’re simply not hungry. Malnutrition is difficult for your body to endure, and doctors recommend taking supplements as well as vitamins and minerals to ensure you’re nourishing your body as you lose weight while on this medication. 

Does Ozempic contribute to muscle and joint pain?

Can you experience musculoskeletal issues while taking Ozempic?

A person from behind, grasping their left shoulder with their right hand, indicating pain shown by a red highlighted area on the shoulder.
Some patients on Ozempic have reported muscle and joint pain. Image courtesy of Propel Physiotherapy.

While there are some side effects that you may experience from Ozempic, some mild and some more severe, there are also folks who have reported muscle and joint pain from taking this medication. This is not considered to be a common side effect, but it’s still important to mention because it can occur. Joint pain like this typically comes from some kind of inflammation, such as arthritis, and when it occurs while you’re taking Ozempic or Wegovy, it’s attributed to your body trying to metabolize and use the medication. 

This type of issue is more likely to occur when you first start taking these drugs as your body is responding to it and trying to get used to the changes in your bodily processes. Doctors think this response could stem from the fact that semaglutide specifically targets the GLP-1 receptors throughout the body and not just in the brain and GI tract. 

Joint and muscle pain can vary from patient to patient, and can include stiffness and achiness to different degrees. Some feel like it is a dull pain that throbs, while others experience sharper pains that come and go. You can experience this issue in one of your muscles or joints, or in a variety of them. The duration of the pain can vary as well, and for some patients it goes away the longer they’re on the medication, and in rare instances, it only ceases when they stop taking Ozempic. If this is a side effect you experience, make sure you discuss with your doctor the best steps to overcome and manage it while you’re on these meds. 

Does Ozempic increase or decrease inflammation?

Ozempic works to decrease inflammation in the body, and diabetics on the drug have not only lost weight and stabilized their blood sugar, but they’ve also reduced the amount of inflammation that was present in their heart and kidneys. Diabetics are at a greater risk of developing issues with their kidneys and heart, so the fact that semaglutide works to help lower inflammation in the body overall is encouraging. 

The inflammation response of aching or painful joints and muscles seems to be a separate side effect, and is more often than not a response of the body as it adjusts to the changes. While you have a small chance of experiencing painful muscles and joints, it’s likely that will decrease or stop the longer you take the medication. 

What are the most common causes of muscle and joint pain?

What could be some other reasons you’re experiencing pain while on Ozempic?

A woman seen from behind, wearing a pink tank top with a teal sports bra, holding her lower back with both hands.
There are a variety of other reasons you may be experiencing joint or muscle pain. Image courtesy of Medical News Today

Patients’ reaction to Ozempic can range from almost no side effects, to more severe issues with the GI tract, and even painful muscles or joints. If you’re experiencing pain in these areas, it’s essential to discuss with your doctor about what else besides the medication may be causing it. Common causes of issues with joints and muscles include:

  • Muscles strains
  • Intensive sports or exercise
  • Injuries
  • Poor posture

If any of these have occurred, they could be the reason behind your stiff, achy, or painful joints and muscles. Some of the best ways to prevent this type of pain include proper posture, as well as warming up and cooling down before any exercise or strenuous activity. Physical activity is essential to maintain a healthy weight, even if you’re taking Ozempic or Wegovy. This is especially true if you have a weight loss goal in mind, which means you’re definitely going to be increasing your activity levels. However, that can also increase your chances of strain or injury. 

Additional ways to keep a healthy weight

In addition to exercise, you also need to be aware of your diet in order to maintain a healthy weight and BMI. This is true whether you’re taking weight loss medication or not. Including items that nourish your body and provide it with the fuel it needs is essential, especially if you’re looking to increase your protein consumption without adding extra calories, sugar, or carbs.

Wonderslim Meal Replacement Shake, Variety Pack
Meal replacement shakes are a great supplement to include if you’re on a weight loss drug like Ozempic or Wegovy. Image courtesy of Diet Direct

One of the easiest ways to increase your daily protein consumption is with a protein shake like WonderSlim’s Meal Replacement Shake. Each tasty shake contains 15 grams of protein, 24 essential vitamins and minerals, and only 100 calories. These are so convenient because you can enjoy them at home or on the go, not to mention they come in 8 delicious flavors plus a variety pack. 

BariWise Protein Snack Bar, Caramel Crunch
Add a protein packed snack to your day to help you stay full and energized. Image courtesy of Diet Direct

In addition to meal replacement shakes, you can always include high-protein snacks like Bariwise’s Protein Snack Bar. These convenient snacks are easy to take with you anywhere, and they’re a healthy snack that will actually keep you full until your next meal. Each bar contains 12-15 grams of protein, 170 calories or less, 0 trans fat, and are gluten-free. There are five delicious flavors to choose from, making it even easier to include more protein in your routine.