Ofloxacin and Joint Problems

When children take ofloxacin, joint problems are possible, including joint pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion, and difficulty walking. These problems are more likely with the tablet form, which is not approved for children under 18. The otic and ophthalmic forms are considered safer for children, because so little of the medication is absorbed into the bloodstream.

Does Ofloxacin Cause Joint Problems?

Ofloxacin is a prescription antibiotic that belongs to a group of medications called fluoroquinolones, or "quinolones" for short. It is used to treat a variety of different infections. Like all quinolones, there are concerns that ofloxacin may cause joint problems in children.

Joint Problems in Children Taking Ofloxacin

Like other quinolones, ofloxacin may increase the risk for muscle, joint, or tendon problems when used in children. In animal studies, high doses of ofloxacin caused problems with joint and bone development when given to juvenile animals.
The risk for joint problems with ofloxacin use in children has not been thoroughly studied in clinical trials. However, another quinolone has been studied. In this study, one group of children received a quinolone and another group was given a different antibiotic medication (a cephalosporin). All possible muscle, bone, or joint pain was recorded and evaluated.
After six weeks of treatment, 9.3 percent of the children taking the quinolone medication experienced muscle, bone, or joint pain, compared to 6 percent of children receiving the other antibiotic. Specific types of muscle, bone, or joint problems included:
  • Joint pain
  • Joint sprain
  • Abnormal gait
  • Leg and arm pain
  • Back pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Wearing down of cartilage in the joints.
A variety of joints were affected, including the knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hip. All the joint pain and other symptoms resolved within 30 days of stopping the antibiotic.
Ofloxacin tablets are not approved for use in children under the age of 18, although the eye and ear drops are approved for use in children. These topical ofloxacin products are generally considered safe for use in children because so little of the medication is absorbed into the bloodstream after normal use.
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