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Health Fusion: Do antidepressants reduce pain for wear and tear arthritis?

Knee or hip pain from osteoarthritis can be miserable. Some people take an antidepressant called duloxetine to reduce that pain. But does it work? Viv Williams looks at a study that may have an answer in this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion."

ROCHESTER — A new study published in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology explores whether the antidepressant duloxetine helps reduce pain for people with knee or hip osteoarthritis (OA). The researchers' conclusion? No. In the primary care setting it does not.

“There was no clinically relevant effect of duloxetine added to usual care compared to usual care alone for chronic osteoarthritis pain, and it should not be implemented,” the authors wrote.

That's likely a bummer for people who have hip and knee wear and tear arthritis. And confusing, as previous research suggests that the medication may be helpful.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website notes that OA affects over 32.5 million US adults. The condition happens when cartilage in your joints breaks down. Your joints become painful and stiff. Treatments include medications, physical therapy to strengthen muscles around your joins, weight loss, using a cane or other support to take pressure off of your joint, surgery (including joint replacement) and exercise. And while appropriate exercise may sound awful to someone with painful joints, research shows it can help.

The duloxetine study was done by researchers at Erasmus MC, University Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The study authors say additional research is needed to confirm their results.


If you're confused or have questions about treatments or medications (such as duloxetine) for OA, talk to your healthcare provider.

Follow the Health Fusion podcast on Apple , Spotify , and Google Podcasts.

For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at vwilliams@newsmd.com . Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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