Calcium deposits in tendons from Roaccutane

by Phil
(United Kingdom)

Hi, I was interested to read on your website about one of the many serious, though less common side effects of taking Accutane, “calcium deposits in tendons (the significance of this is unknown)”.


I’m 31 years old now and I took several courses of Roaccutane over a period of about 4-5 years, the last of which was when I was about 25. Shortly after this when I was 26 I started to develop pain in my knees when I knelt down, ran, jumped, played any sports etc. This pain increased gradually over a period of approx. 1 year until it got so painful that I became totally unable to run, jump, play sports etc at all. Even walking up and down stairs became excruciatingly painful.

I went from being a very active and sporting person to someone that could not do anything that involved anything more strenuous than a slow walk. The pain was located at the point of insertion of the patella tendon into the tibia (tibial tuberosity) on both legs.

Over the past four years I have been trying to get a diagnosis and treatment for my knee pain. I’ve seen my GP, several physiotherapists, a podiatrist, 2 rheumatologists and an orthopedic consultant. I have undergone many types of investigation including x-rays, ultra-sound scans, ct scans, MR scans, and treatments including rest, ice, stretching, ultra-sound therapy, laser therapy, orthotic insoles and surgery twice (on both knees) to remove boney spurs.

In all this time and after all these treatments no one had given me an accurate diagnosis. Everyone I saw seems totally baffled as to why I was getting these excruciating pains. The psychological effect of this disablement and not knowing what was wrong with me was huge.

Recently I saw a consultant radiologist for another ultra-sound scan with the intention of having a steroid injection at or near the point of the pain on one of my knees. During this scan the consultant told me that I had calcium deposits in my patella tendons and that the tendons were also inflamed. He said that inflammation was a cause of calcium build up, and that the presence of calcium deposits also caused inflammation. He said he’d seen this type of thing in either very old people or professional athletes (of which I am neither).

He also said that he’d heard of these types of symptoms in people that had taken Roaccutane. This struck me immediately as I had always had a suspicion that my pain might have been caused by Roaccutane somehow as I was aware that it had some harsh side effects.

I offered this theory to each health professional that I’ve seen over the past four years but every time they’ve said that it was unconnected. I’m now seeing a rheumatologist and taking a drug called Disodium Etidronate (used for osteoporosis patients) to try and prevent the build up of calcium deposits in my tendons.

I also take daily anti-inflammatory’s called Naproxen and amitriptyline and co-proxamol for pain relief. Although my pain levels have reduced on a day to day level I am still unable to do anything more strenuous than walking without suffering extreme pain in my knees. More recently I’ve also developed a similar condition in both of my elbows of which I’ve had surgery on one of them (to no significant benefit).

My life has changed dramatically because of these conditions, I feel like an old man at the age of 31.

The reason that I’m writing is to see if anyone else has suffered similar side effects from taking Roaccutane.

I also don’t think that enough information was provided (to me) at the time of prescription and wonder if I would’ve taken the drug if I had of been fully aware of such severe potential side effects.

Also, if my condition could’ve been diagnosed sooner and explained to me that it was as a side effect of Roaccutane, the psychological damage of not knowing what was happening to me might have been reduced. I think this could only have happened if more health professionals were aware of the potential side effects and how to recognize them.

I know that not every health professional can know everything, but I would’ve expected that after all the people I’ve seen, all the investigation that has been done and all the treatments offered I might’ve had a diagnosis a bit earlier than four years which is what it has taken.

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Jan 05, 2012
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hip tendonitis
by: Anonymous

I am 32 now and had taken accutane when I was 21. Up until a couple of years ago and I was fine but started having pain in my hips, especially my left. However now, my left hip is very achy and I find it hard to exercise. I just recently started to look into it. Had x-rays and then an MRI and tomorrow I am actually having an injection to freeze my hip. I was told only that it is inflamed and that it's tendonitis. The doctors are curious if there is a tear also in the tendon. I hope it is not linked to the accutane as I am currently on it again to clear up some recurring acne. We'll have to see, but it's great to have some more info that might link my issue. Thanks.

Sep 21, 2011
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Me too
by: Anonymous

I have patellar tendinosis in one knee. I cannot say for sure it was related to accutane. I took the stuff as a teenager and I do remember after getting pain sometimes when I'd run, but in my mid 20s was running more and really got some bad tendinosis. I'm 33 and it's never gone away despite following untold amounts of PT for this particular condition.

I don't know if I can blame this on accutane.

I will say unequivocally I wish I had NEVER EVER EVER taken an oral drug with potentially bad side effects for something as stupid as acne, which goes away in almost everybody eventually. Even at the time I had drying issues, dry nose, cracked lips, etc. stupid, stupid. I think people should stop taking this drug to be totally honest.

May 10, 2011
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Same Thing Here
by: Anonymous

I have had the same problem develop when I was about 22 years old in my right patellar tendon. I have not taken any of the mentioned medications, but I do believe it has been from excessive use. I have and continue to be extremely involved in sports that require sprinting, jumping, and squatting. I had a procedure done on my right knee when I was 26 and thank God have been pain free in that let. I was told it was a bone tumor, but no actual diagnosis other than that it was not a common occurrence. Now 30 I have developed the same thing on my left...guess that leg was slow to catch up or the fact that I compensated all those years prior cause excessive stress. Anyhow I will be getting the same procedure done. It seriously is like night and day, I had forgotten what it felt like to be pain free.

Mar 13, 2011
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roacutane tendons
by: Anonymous

I took racutane 15 years ago, since a couple of years ago, I also have tendons problems to both my knees and both elbows. I tried everything - you can contact me to talk about it
fabianaubry@yahoo.fr

Feb 02, 2011
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aching tendons!
by: Anonymous

Within the literature for Roaccutane that I am currently taking it does list muscle and tendon aches and pains as an adverse side effect - although rare.

However, I took Roaccutane about 5 years ago and suffered muscle pain which I was told was common in those who exersied a lot, it did surpass.
I am now taking roaccutane again and my tendons are constantly aching while walking, or cease up when I am at rest. It was terrible about 4 weeks ago (1 month into treatment). I am still aching now and am just starting my 3rd month, however it has eased off a bit and as long as I don't do too much walking it's bearable.

I am in the UK and have a consultation every month with my dermatologist who discusses all side effects I have and decides whether to continue, stop, or reduce medicaion. I also have a blood test every 1-3 months to check liver function, cholesterol and muscle damage.
everyone gets different effects, some worse than others and unfortunately some side effect wear off either during or after treatment, whereas others stay with you for long term.

I guess it is more important to decide whether having acne is more upsetting than aches and pains.

I would thoroughly suggest having a food intolerency (not allergy) test done as my acne did improve about 50% after I removed some stuff my body did not 'like'.

Dec 15, 2010
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Accutane user with same problem
by: funny knee

Wow that's crazy, I have actually had a calcium deposit in my patellar tendon attaching to the shinbone since I was about 12, I believe it was due to osgood schlatter Disease. I was very active in gymnastics and sports as a kid, my parents and everyone shrugged it off as growing pains and well...so did I. I had a small hard lump that just never went away although it didn't really hurt much for years. I took accutane in my mid 20s for about 6 months and now in my early 30s suddenly the lump has grown to 3 times its original size to where it almost looks like a second knee cap and causes me pain when going down stairs or kneeling and sometimes just hurts...I wouldn't say the pain is unbearable but definately limits certain activity and is annoying.

I just recently within the past few months finished another 6 month fairly low dose of accutane and my knee was definately hurting worse during that time. I have never had a doctor officially diagnose this so I spend time researching on my own believing that maybe this was a rare case of osgood schlatter that carried through adulthood. I am just finally discovering that it might be calcium deposits in my tendon but now you have me wondering if this could have re-emerged due to the accutane, which also worries me that this could get worse. Please keep me posted on your findings.

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