Lack of Evidence that Beta Blocker Use Reduces Knee Pain, Areas of Joint Pain, or Analgesic Use among Individuals with Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis

Objective

The potential for beta blocker use to reduce joint pain and analgesic use in osteoarthritis (OA) patients has not been well established. The objective of this study was to estimate the association between beta blocker use and knee pain, areas of joint pain, and analgesic use among participants with symptomatic knee OA.

Design

We selected participants with symptomatic knee OA from the Osteoarthritis Initiative. Outcome measures included knee pain (e.g., WOMAC pain subscale), areas of joint pain (e.g., widespread joint pain), and analgesic use (e.g., use of strong pain prescriptions including opioids). We decomposed time-varying beta blocker use into within-person and between-person variation, and included these components in linear mixed effects models for repeated outcome measures of knee pain, joint pain, and analgesic use over 8 years.

Results

Among 1,168 participants, 15% reported beta blocker use at baseline. Beta blocker users (5.2, 95%CI[4.7, 5.8]) had similar estimated mean WOMAC pain scores as other anti-hypertensive users (4.9, 95%CI[4.6, 5.2]), with an estimated within-person difference of 0.1 (95%CI[-0.3, 0.4]). Proportion of participants reporting widespread joint pain was similar between beta blocker users and other anti-hypertensive users (40.1% vs 40.3%; within-person effect, odds ratio[OR]=0.87, 95%CI[0.63, 1.22]). Reported use of strong prescription pain medication was also similar between beta blocker users and other anti-hypertensive users (7.7% vs 8.2%; within-person effect, OR=1.39, 95%CI[0.75, 2.55]).

Conclusions

We found no evidence that beta blockers confer a clinically meaningful reduction in knee pain severity, areas of joint pain, or analgesic use among participants with symptomatic knee OA.