Beta-blockers (e.g. propranolol) prevent migraines, but could also help other pains

Beta-blocker propranolol (Inderal) was first approved over 50 years ago for the treatment of hypertension and 10 years later became the first drug to be approved for the prevention of migraine headaches. Beta-blockers that followed, including atenolol, timolol, nebivolol, and other, also work for the prevention of migraines. Beta-blockers are also used to treat benign essential or familial tremor, performance anxiety, and other disorders.

A study recently published in Arthritis Care and Research suggests that beta-blockers also reduce arthritis pain. The researchers evaluated 873 patients who suffered from painful osteoarthritis of the hip and/or knee as well as hypertension and who were taking at least one anti-hypertensive medication. Their analysis took into account age, gender, body mass index (BMI), knee or hip osteoarthritis, history of joint replacement, anxiety and depression. The result of this sophisticated analysis showed that patients who were taking beta-blockers had less pain than patients taking other anti-hypertensive medications. Patients taking beta-blockers were also found to be taking less of opioid (narcotic) and other prescription pain medications.

This type of study shows a correlation between the use of certain medications and pain, however to prove that beta-blockers are indeed effective for the pain of osteoarthritis or any other type of pain, we need prospective blinded studies. Until we have those kind of studies, which often take years to complete, it seems prudent to consider using beta-blockers as first-line drugs for the prevention of migraines in patients who also suffer from arthritis pain.

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