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Is There a Connection between Ciprofloxacin and Tendinitis?

By Rebecca Mecomber
Updated Feb 15, 2024
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According to numerous physicians, lawyers and patients there is a connection between ciprofloxacin and tendinitis. Numerous patients on the antibiotic have reported mild swelling to severe ruptures of the Achilles, shoulder and hand tendons. Older patients are more vulnerable than others. Patients with arthritis, gout and other joint-related disorders are also more at risk, as are patients on long-term steroid and dialysis therapy. While the exact correlation between ciprofloxacin and tendinitis is unknown, some experts speculate that ciprofloxacin inhibits the blood flow to tendons, damaging the tendons and causing inflammation.

Ciprofloxacin is an antibiotic fluoroquinolone, a synthetic drug that attacks the DNA of bacteria. It is a very common treatment for bacterial infections, including urinary tract infections, sinusitis, Typhoid fever, anthrax and sexually-transmitted diseases. The drug was first produced by the German pharmaceutical manufacturer Bayer in 1983. Very shortly after its approval as an antibiotic, patients taking ciprofloxacin experienced tendinitis and spontaneous ruptures of the tendons. Reports estimate that 15 to 20 patients per 100,000 on ciprofloxacin experience severe tendon disorders.

A patient on ciprofloxacin may initially feel as if he or she has strained a muscle or injured a joint from a sudden movement, but the problem grows worse and persists. To avoid severe complications with ciprofloxacin and tendinitis, patients on the drug are advised to consult with their physician at the first signs of tendon pain. Prompt medical treatment and immediate discontinuation of the antibiotic can prevent further tendon damage and possible rupture. In some cases, a medical professional may schedule a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam to check for ruptures.

Tendinitis is simply defined as an inflammation of the tendons — the fibrous, rubbery sinews that connect muscles to bones. Pain and swelling can be severe, exacerbated when the joint is moved. Stiffness accompanied by a burning sensation, swelling and tenderness follow. A ruptured tendon is excruciatingly painful and debilitating, requiring immediate medical attention and possibly surgery to repair the damaged tendon.

As with many antibiotics, side effects of ciprofloxacin can range from mild to severe in sensitive patients. Common maladies include diarrhea, stomach and intestinal cramps, and nausea. Besides the ciprofloxacin and tendinitis complications, more serious side effects such as hallucinations, seizures and hives require medical intervention. The risks of ciprofloxacin use may outweigh its benefits, as ciproflaxin has also been known to cause liver injury and failure, colitis, pancreatitis as well as neuropathy and other irreversible nervous disorders.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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