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Can You Get Fluoroquinolone Induced Arthritis?

Can the Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics induce arthritis? The Quinolone and Fluoroquinolone family of antibiotics that include such commonly prescribed drugs as Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox have been blamed for a wide variety of illnesses, with a huge amount of case studies, research, and FDA reports to back up much of these claims. But can antibiotics really create a drug-induced arthritis? In short, the Fluoroquinolones are extremely damaging to connective tissue, which have caused them to be banned from being given to children, teens, and pregnant women. It’s this well-accepted and well-known tendency to damage connective tissue that also cause them to be so damaging to connective tissue that the side effects of tendonopathies and even tendon rupture are undisputed.

It’s this same tendency to damage connective tissue that also can trigger or exacerbate arthritis. Joints depend on smooth intact connective tissue in the joint capsule in order to move smoothly, but the Fluoroquinolones can disrupt the growth and turnover of the connective tissue in the joint capsules, which can lead to the pain, swelling, and even joint damage that has been reported to the FDA by thousands of people.

Indeed, studies on dogs have reported a decreased amount of growth and an increased amount of damage to connective tissue in laboratory settings.

“Achilles paratenon, and shoulder capsule fibroblasts with ciprofloxacin resulted in a statistically significant 66% to 68% decrease in cell proliferation compared with control cells at day 3 in culture. Ciprofloxacin caused a statistically significant 36% to 48% decrease in collagen synthesis compared with controls in all fibroblast cultures.”(3)

But human studies have been the most disturbing, showing that Fluoroquinolone induced arthritis is a reality for many who take these drugs.

“In humans, the [cartilage] lesions [caused by the fluoroquinolones] described are non-erosive symmetric arthropathies that frequently effect the lower extremities… All quinolones appear to be chondrotoxic [damaging to the cartilage].” (2)

Even the FDA, in it’s own documents, admits that, “irreversible cartilaginous lesion[s] can occur” in humans (4), and research studies admit that “fluoroquinolones are toxic to chondrocytes” * (5).  Considering that millions of prescriptions are written for the drugs like Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox every year, it’s amazing that more people are not enduring Fluoroquinolone induced arthritis… or are they. Close to 10% of the elderly suffer from arthritis, and medicine still claims to not understand the causes of chronic arthritis, how do we know that the Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are not at least partially responsible for such a high rate of this painful chronic condition? We certainly can’t know this for sure, but we do know that there are thousands of people who claim that their arthritis was triggered by the Fluoroquinolone antibiotics, and that science tells us that these ‘post marketing’ reports of drug induced arthritis from the Fluoroquinolones are a definite possibility.


  1. The pharmacological management of drug-induced rheumatic disorders
  2. Drug-induced rheumatic disorders: incidence, prevention and management
  3. Cipro Fibroblast Metabolism Fluoroquinolone Arthritis
  4. 62nd FDA Annual Meeting
  5. Fluoroquinolone’s effect on growth of human chondrocytes and chondrosarcomas. In vitro and in vivo correlation