Antidepressants May Provide Some Relief for Lower Back Pain

Doctors often prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and recommend physical therapy in order to treat back pain.

But what about antidepressants?

A recent study authored by doctors in Australia and the Netherlands found that the antidepressant amitriptyline was effective at reducing lower back pain on a short-term basis.

But there’s a catch.

While the antidepressant was effective at the three-month mark, its positive effects were less significant after six months.

The study authors note that although a larger-scale study would be helpful, their findings indicate that an antidepressant medication can be beneficial for lower back pain — and is certainly less harmful than treatment with opioids.

“This study is saying that when patients are treated with antidepressants, they’re not bothered by the pain as much,” explained Dr. Charla Fischer, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at New York University’s School of Medicine. “So the pain scores remain the same, but it’s more the mental outlook of not being so bothered by the pain that’s different.”


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