The use of beta-blockers was associated with reduced joint pain and less use of opioids and other analgesics in patients with symptomatic large joint osteoarthritis, according to a study published in Arthritis Care & Research

Recent evidence suggests that beta-blockers may have anti-nociceptive properties. In order to compare levels of large joint pain between those on beta-adrenergic blockers and those on other antihypertensive agents, researchers from the University of Nottingham evaluated data from the GOAL study, a secondary care cohort of osteoarthritis. 

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Joint pain was evaluated using the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis (WOMAC) pain score in 873 patients with symptomatic hip and/or knee osteoarthritis and hypertension, and who were taking ≥1 prescription medicine. Study authors examined the relationship between adrenergic blocker prescription and at least moderate joint pain (WOMAC <75) and use of prescription analgesics. The analyses accounted for age, gender, body mass index (BMI), knee or hip osteoarthritis, history of joint replacement (at other joints), anxiety, and depression. 

The data showed beta-adrenergic blocker use was associated with lower WOMAC pain scores and a lower prevalence of joint pain after adjustment for variables and comorbidity (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.68, 95% CI: 0.51–0.92; P<0.011). No associations with pain were seen with the use of alpha blockers (aOR 0.94, 95% CI: 0.55–1.58) or with any other antihypertensive classes. 

In addition, use of beta-blockers was associated with reduced opioid use (aOR 0.73, 95% CI: 0.54–0.98; P<0.037) and with analgesic use in general (aOR 0.74, 95% CI: 0.56–0.94; P<0.032). 

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