Antidepressants have little to no effect in alleviating osteoarthritis and chronic pain

A new study published in the journal BMJ has concluded that antidepressants are not effective when treating osteoarthritis and chronic pain.

Initiated by researchers at the University of Sydney, over 5,000 participants with chronic pain or osteoarthritis, as part of 33 randomized controlled trials, were evaluated.

In the study, various classes of antidepressants were used to test the efficacy of each one when reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis or chronic pain.

Upon testing serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) among the participants, this class of antidepressants demonstrated a minimal effect on chronic pain, particularly back pain.

The effects of SNRIs, however, were slightly more beneficial for osteoarthritis pain, but only after reaching its full therapeutic potential at about three months.

Researchers also tested the use of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) but were unable to establish any efficacy in reducing symptoms of chronic pain.

“Moderate certainty evidence shows that the effect of SNRIs on pain and disability scores is small and not clinically important for back pain, but a clinically important effect cannot be excluded for osteoarthritis,” researchers stated in their published work.

“TCAs and SNRIs might be effective for sciatica, but the certainty of evidence ranged from low to very low,” researchers concluded.

The study associated with these findings received no outside funding.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock
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