Antidepressants Aggravate Back Pain and Arthritis
By: Dr. Abe Kopolovich, DPT, MBA, JD-IP
Antidepressants are medications used to relieve the symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders, and several other conditions. This type of medication aims to correct the chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters in the brain that affect your mood and behavior. They are also recommended to be used as drugs to treat pain, however, a new study suggests that antidepressants offer little or no help for people suffering from arthritis and chronic back pain. Also Read – Knee Osteoarthritis: This surgery may prevent the need for total knee replacement
About The Study
The study investigated the safety and efficacy of antidepressants for long term chronic back pain, hip, and knee osteoarthritis, yet evidence supporting their use is uncertain. The researchers analyzed the data of a published study from 33 randomized controlled trials involving more than 5,000 adults with low back or neck pain, sciatica, or hip or knee osteoarthritis.
The Australian study concluded that drug treatments are largely ineffective for back pain and osteoarthritis. In fact, they can cause more harm than provide benefits for people suffering from either of the two problems.
Antidepressants For Chronic Back Pain
At some point or the other, most people experience bouts of back pain. It is one of the most common problems that affect millions of people across the globe. It is not an easy health condition to treat, as per experts. Chronic back pain is the pain that persists after an injury or surgery where it becomes difficult to determine the exact cause. To treat the problem, patients are often given antidepressants. But the study published in the British Medical Journal found that antidepressants may not work for chronic back pain. Also Read – Arthritis drug cannot lower the risk of death in severe COVID-19 patients: Study
Researchers led by Giovanni Ferreira at the University of Sydney set a difference of 10 points on a 0 to 100 point scale for pain or disability as the smallest worthwhile difference between groups – a threshold commonly used in other studies of chronic pain. Also Read – Do you get back pain after eating? Here are some possible causes
According to the findings, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) were able to alleviate back pain after three months. The researchers only saw an average difference of 5.3 points on the pain scale compared with placebo, which is not even considered clinically important by most people with chronic back pain.
Antidepressants For Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis that can affect anyone. It is a result of the changes in cartilages that cushions bones and joints of your body. As you age, the genes and molecules in the cartilage cells also change, which often leads to a breakdown. The end result – chronic pain and stiffness in the bones and joints. Many people rely on medication like antidepressants to treat the problem, but the study suggests that it might not be effective.
The effect of antidepressants on patients suffering from osteoarthritis was slightly stronger than patients with chronic back pain. SNRIs worked better after three months, and the average difference of 9.7 points was seen. Even though the difference was not huge, researchers said that even a small beneficial effect of antidepressants cannot be ruled out.
Physical Therapy has proven to be a safe and effective tool for patients suffering for back pain and osteoarthritis.