There must be some reason people often complain of back pain while taking Accutane.
Accutane is a powerful drug, also known as isotretinoin. It is used only in cases of severe acne that have proved resistant to other forms of treatment.
This medication, although effective, is prone to cause different side effects, including back pain.
Back pain caused by Accutane is often associated with side effects of joint and muscle problems.
This is usually a serious impact that can become permanent even after you stop treatment.
What Is Accutane?
Accutane is also known as isotretinoin, pronounced as “eye soe tret’ i noyn.”
It is a powerful drug prescribed to treat severe acne, simply acne, that has proved resistant to all other forms of treatment.
It is mostly used to counteract nodular acne, a chronic type characterized by red, swollen tender lumps that form on the skin.
This medication is derived from vitamin A, which is present in the body’s bloodstream.
Accutane is proven to have worked against acne for more than half of people without recurrence; it is often taken for about 4 to 6 months.
Dosages are usually according to the prescription however, the more Accutane taken, the higher the chances of cure.
Unfortunately, the higher the dosage, the more likely the prevalence of side effects.
Although some side effects may go away on their own, there are others that become debilitating with life-threatening risks.
Because of its various side effects, Accutane comes with strict conditions for usage and purchase.
It is strongly advised against pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant.
Sexually active women must use an effective method of birth control while taking Accutane medications.
In most cases, birth control pills and an additional prevention method are preferred.
This medication poses several risks, so much so that a special program was set up and approved by the Food And Drug Administration for the restricted distribution – iPLEDGE.
This is a special program set up for the registration, distribution, and administration of this drug.
Physicians and pharmacists who prescribe this medication have to be registered and activated with the program, while men and women who take Accutane have to first discuss the program with their physician.
How Is Accutane Associated With Back Pain
Isotretinion poses a lot of risks to patients that use it.
There are side effects associated with the use of Accutane that can either be mild or debilitating with long-term effects.
One of these side effects is joints and muscle problems.
This medication affects your joints, muscles, and bones. It causes pain that is prevalent in your lower back.
It could also stunt the growth of bones and ligaments in teens, which may sometimes have a permanent impact.
Some individuals may experience muscle weakness without pain, they may feel weak in the affected muscle areas without pain.
When this occurs, it is usually a sign of serious muscle damage and long-lasting effects.
Severe side effects like the onset of new joint pain, broken bone, and new back pain might also arise later on.
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your physician immediately.
Why Does Accutane Cause Back Pain?
Isotretinoin is a powerful medication used only in dire cases when all other forms of treatment have failed.
Although effective for severe acne, it causes so many other side effects that are debilitating.
Back pain can occur from some of the side effects associated with Accutane.
Some of these include infections, joint and muscle pain, allergic reactions, and organ damage (lower abdomen).
Side Effects Of Accutane
There are many side effects of Accutane, most of which are usually chronic with permanent effects. These include;
A rare side effect of Accutane that causes pressure on your brain. This can also lead to loss of eyesight permanently and death in rare cases.
You might also experience dizziness, blurry vision, severe headache, nausea, and vomiting.
Stroke and seizures may also be prevalent, but only in very serious cases. Contact your doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
Internal organs like your liver, intestines, pancreas, and esophagus (this is the tube connecting your mouth to your stomach and vice versa).
This may be accompanied by any of the following;
- New or increased heartburn
- Yellow discoloration of your skin and eyes
- Colored or dark urine
- Severe pain in affected areas like the stomach, chest or lower abdomen.
- Difficulty swallowing or pain and discomfort when swallowing.
- Rectum bleeding
These damages may not stop or heal even after you stop taking the medication. Consult your doctor immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
Joint And Muscle Problems
One of the most common side effects patients complains about after taking Isotretinoin.
Joint and muscle issues often occur and affect your bones, joints, and muscles.
The usage of this medication can either cause new joint problems, aggravate underlying ones, or even stunt the growth of bones in teenagers.
Sometimes weakness in affected muscles may arise without pain or discomfort. This is a typical serious side effect that should be treated as soon as possible.
Increased Fat And Cholesterol
Isotretinoin can increase your blood fat and cholesterol levels.
People with conditions like obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or those who drink alcohol are more susceptible to this side effect.
The good news, however, is that this side effect goes away after you complete your treatment with isotretinoin.
Skin rashes are a rare occurrence associated with Accutane and followed by any of the other symptoms, such as:
- Blisters on skin of your leg, arm or face
- Peeling of the affected areas
- Inflammation of the conjunctiva of your eye, known as conjunctivitis or pink eye.
- Sores and infection in your mouth, throat, nose and eyes (mostly on the eyelids)
Reactions can either be mild or severe depending on the cause of allergy.
However, allergic reactions to isotretinoin include fever, bruises, rash, or red patches on your leg.
Breathing difficulties, swelling in your mouth and face, itchy skin, and hives may also surface but mostly in rare cases.
Blood Sugar Problems
Because of its powerful nature, Accutane may spike or decrease your blood sugar, causing problems like diabetes, frequent urination, severe thirst, blurred vision, and increased fatigue.
Although this is usually rare, seek immediate treatment if you notice any of these.
Blood Cells Level
Low red blood cells may lead to anemia with extreme tiredness, pale skin, dizziness or lightheadedness, weakness, and cold feet and hands.
Low white blood cells, increase your risk of infections. Typical symptoms are fever and frequent infections.
Mental Health Problems
Rarely occurring but still a side effect of Accutane, this can cause depression, psychosis, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Associated symptoms are;
- Sleeping problems of too much or too little sleep
- Feelings of guilt, sadness, or worthlessness
- Hallucinating (seeing and hearing things that are not real)
- Increased irritability, anger, and aggression
- Lack of energy
- Trouble concentrating
- Thoughts of hurting yourself and suicide
Preventing And Managing Side Effects Of Accutane
It is often recommended to stop taking any brand of Isotretinoin as soon as you notice the onset of any symptom.
But to avoid any of these, it is best to stay away from this form of treatment.
This is because the side effects can sometimes become permanent, even after completing your treatment or when you stop taking medications.
However, if you have already started receiving treatment with Accutane or would like to begin. Here are precautions to be aware of;
- Isotretinoin must not be taken during pregnancy, that is it should be avoided by women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. This is because there is a higher risk of stillbirth, premature birth, defects at birth and loss of pregnancy.
- A consent sheet is signed before you can begin treatment. During this process, you will be informed ahead of the risks involved. You will also need to visit your doctor every month to discuss your condition and side effects you may be experiencing.
- Isotretinoin is only prescribed by doctors or pharmacies registered with the iPLEDGE Program to individuals who have also been registered.
- Do not donate blood if you are currently undergoing treatment with Isotretinoin.
- Do not give out your medications to someone else, even if you have the exact or similar symptoms.
- Male patients with a pregnant partner or partners hoping to become pregnant are advised to speak with their doctors. This is because there may be traces of Isotretinoin in the semen that may harm the fœtus.
Because of its powerful nature and side effects, Accutane is only available in some countries.
It is mostly advised against, however, fetus you would still like to continue treatment. Consult your doctor for in-depth information and the risks involved.
You should also book an appointment immediately if you notice any prevailing symptom or the aggravation of underlying health issues.
American Osteopathic College of Dermatology (AOCD): Accutane