Alleviate Back Pain and Arthritis: Antidepressant Effects
By: Dr. Abe Kopolovich, DPT, MBA, JD-IP
How do Antidepressants Influence Back Pain and Arthritis?
Antidepressants are crucial in addressing depression, anxiety disorders, and various ailments. These medications aim to restore chemical imbalances in the brain’s neurotransmitters, affecting mood and behavior.
While antidepressants are commonly used for pain, a recent study suggests their effectiveness in treating chronic back pain caused by arthritis may be limited.
Understanding The Study
A comprehensive investigation aimed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of antidepressants’ long-term effects in managing chronic back pain, hip, and knee osteoarthritis. The study revealed inconclusive evidence supporting their use, questioning their risks.
Australian researchers shed light on the potential drawbacks of drug treatments by analyzing data from 33 randomized controlled trials involving over 5,000 adults with conditions like low back or neck pain, sciatica, or hip or knee osteoarthritis.
These findings suggest that antidepressant medications may do more harm than good for those affected by these conditions.
Chronic Back Pain and Antidepressants:
Back pain is a prevalent issue affecting millions worldwide; however, it remains a challenging health condition to treat effectively.
Chronic Back pain arthritis, which persists after an injury or surgery, often defies exact diagnosis. In such cases, antidepressant medications are commonly prescribed. Yet, a study published in the British Medical Journal challenges their efficacy in managing chronic back pain.
Additionally, an arthritis drug fails to lower the risk of death in severe COVID-19 patients, highlighting the need for alternative solutions.
Research Insights: The Impact on Chronic Back Pain:
Led by Giovanni Ferreira at the University of Sydney, researchers established a significant threshold for pain or disability using a 0 to 100-point scale. This scale helps determine the slightest worthwhile difference between groups, a commonly utilized metric in chronic pain studies.
The study revealed that serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) provided slight relief after three months, with an average difference of 5.3 points on the pain scale compared to a placebo. However, this difference falls short of clinical significance for most individuals with chronic back pain symptoms.
Addressing Osteoarthritis: Exploring Antidepressant Effects
Osteoarthritis, a prevalent form of arthritis, can impact anyone. It occurs due to changes in the cartilage that cushions bones and joints. As you age, the genes and molecules in your cartilage cells undergo alterations, often leading to their breakdown.
Consequently, back pain symptoms and stiffness manifest in your bones and joints. Many individuals use antidepressant medications to manage this condition, but recent research questions their effectiveness. However, the study suggests that even a small beneficial effect of antidepressants meaning cannot be dismissed entirely.
Research Findings: Antidepressants and Osteoarthritis
Compared to chronic back pain symptoms, the side effect of antidepressants on patients with osteoarthritis demonstrated slightly better results. SNRIs exhibited improved efficacy after three months, resulting in an average difference of 9.7 points on the pain scale.
Researchers have emphasized that it’s crucial not to dismiss the potential positive impact of antidepressant effects, despite the minor disparity observed.
When addressing patients with back pain and osteoarthritis, Physical Therapy emerges as an optimal solution, providing both safety and efficacy.