Opioids for chronic pain: new evidence, new strategies, safe prescribing.

Link to article at PubMed

Opioids for chronic pain: new evidence, new strategies, safe prescribing.

Am J Med. 2013 Mar;126(3 Suppl 1):S3-S11

Authors: de Leon-Casasola OA


In the United States, the prevalence and burden of chronic pain is large and still growing. Older adults (aged ?65 years) make up a large portion of the population with chronic pain, and their presentation, diagnosis, and treatment tends to be more complicated because of age-related physiological changes and comorbidities. Guidelines on treating patients with severe back pain recommend opioids as an option for those who do not find adequate pain relief from acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). For older adult patients at higher risk for NSAID-related adverse effects, such as those who have gastrointestinal or cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, or who are taking low-dose aspirin, opioids are recommended instead. Opioids may also be an appropriate option for patients with neuropathic pain who have not achieved adequate analgesia from maximum doses of first- and second-line antineuropathic agents. Still, opioids are not appropriate for all patients; rather, a differential diagnosis, consideration of other comorbidities, and the potential for opioid-related adverse effects and substance abuse are required to confirm the value of opioid treatment for each individual. For nonresponders to opioid therapy, opioid rotation should be considered before discontinuation is pursued.

PMID: 23414718 [PubMed - in process]

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