Effect of low-dose amitriptyline on reducing pain in clinical knee osteoarthritis compared to benztropine: study protocol of a randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Knee osteoarthritis is a major cause of pain and disability. Pain control is poor, with most patients remaining in moderate to severe pain. This may be because central causes of pain, a common contributor to knee pain, are not affected by current treatment strategies. Antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, have been used to treat chronic pain in other conditions. The aim of this randomised, double blind, controlled trial, is to determine whether low dose amitriptyline reduces pain in people with painful knee osteoarthritis over 3 months compared to benztropine, an active placebo. Methods/design: One hundred and sixty people with painful radiographic knee osteoarthritis will be recruited via clinicians, local and social media advertising. Participants will be randomly allocated in a 1:1 ratio to receive either low dose amitriptyline (25 mg) or active placebo (benztropine mesylate, 1 mg) for 3 months. The primary outcome is change from baseline in knee pain (WOMAC pain subscale) at 12 weeks. Secondary outcomes include change in function (total WOMAC) and the proportion of individuals achieving a substantial response (≥ 50% reduction in pain intensity, measured by Visual Analog Scale, VAS, from no pain to worst pain imaginable, 0-100 mm) and moderate response (≥ 30% reduction in pain intensity, measured by VAS) at 12 weeks. Intention to treat analyses will be performed. Subgroup analyses will be done. Discussion: This study will provide high level evidence regarding the effectiveness of low dose amitriptyline compared to benztropine in reducing pain and improving function in knee OA. This trial has the potential to provide an effective new therapeutic approach for pain management in knee osteoarthritis, with the potential of ready translation into clinical practice, as it is repurposing an old drug, which is familiar to clinicians and with a well described safety record. Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry prior to recruitment commencing (ACTRN12615000301561, March 31, 2015, amended 14 December 2018, February 2021). Additional amendment requested 18 July 2021.

Original languageEnglish
Article number826
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2021


  • Amitriptyline
  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Pain

Cite this