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DR ELLIE CANNON: Cramp in my calf is spreading - I blame statins

For the past five months I've been getting cramp in a calf. Recently it's been a little higher, just down from behind my knee. 

Could it be due to the statins I've been taking for years?

A third of people over the age of 60 regularly suffer from cramps. 

They can be caused by dehydration, certain exercises, liver disease and drinking too much alcohol.

Cramps may also be a sign of an underactive thyroid gland, and, yes, they can be a side effect of certain medicines.

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People on statins often report muscle aches and pains, which can start even after taking the tablets without any problems for years.

The simple way to find out if statins are to blame is to stop taking them for at least four weeks – having first spoken to your GP. 

If that helps, the answer is clear and a different tablet to lower cholesterol can be used. 

Or the doctor, having reviewed the case, may consider that these drugs are no longer necessary.

Twenty years ago we prescribed statins to anyone with high cholesterol. 

Now we are more considered in our approach, taking into account family history, lifestyle factors such as smoking and diet, age, weight and other illnesses, including diabetes. 

So a discussion with the GP would always be worthwhile.

Regular exercises can help to reduce cramps and even prevent them happening at all.

If you Google 'NHS calf cramp exercises', you should be able to find some simple options.

After a nasty bout of shingles last year I've been suffering ongoing pain where the rash was – called post-herpetic neuralgia – and have been told the virus also caused a tear in my cornea. 

The vision in my right eye is like looking through a fog all the time, which is upsetting as I have a driving job and I now rely on my good left eye. Might a cornea transplant help me?

Shingles  is a viral infection that affects up to a third of us. For most people it causes a bout of intensely sore and painful lesions with no long-term problems. 

 
 

Reference: Dr Ellie Cannon for The Mail on Sunday 

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