The Narcotic Bowel Syndrome: A Recent Update.

Link to article at PubMed

Related Articles

The Narcotic Bowel Syndrome: A Recent Update.

Am J Gastroenterol. 2014 Sep 10;2(1):22-30

Authors: Drossman D, Szigethy E

OBJECTIVES:The paradoxical development of chronic abdominal pain is an underrecognized side effect of opioid use. Narcotic bowel syndrome (NBS), occurring in a small proportion of chronic opioid users, consists of chronic or intermittent abdominal pain, which often increases in severity despite continued or escalating dosages of opioids prescribed to relieve pain.METHODS:A PubMed search was conducted using terms such as "narcotic bowel syndrome" and "opioid hyperalgesia" through January 2014.RESULTS:Abdominal pain is the defining symptom of NBS and is thought to be mediated by central nervous system dysfunction; it should be distinguished from the peripheral side effects of opioids, such as nausea, bloating, intermittent vomiting, abdominal distension, and constipation. This latter cluster of symptoms is called opioid bowel dysfunction, although it may co-occur with NBS. Hypothesized mechanisms of the central effects of opioids on nociception in NBS include spinal cord inflammation and dysfunction in opioid receptor activity and related neuroanatomical substrates. With continued use, ∼6% of patients taking narcotics chronically will develop NBS, with profound consequences in terms of daily function. The primary management paradigm for NBS is a structured opioid withdrawal program accompanied by centrally acting adjunctive therapy comprising antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and clonidine to target pain, anxiety, and depression, and prevent withdrawal effects, in addition to peripherally acting agents such as laxatives (e.g., osmotic laxatives and chloride channel activators) to control transient constipation. Such structured withdrawal programs have been prospectively evaluated in small clinical trials and have met with considerable success in the short term.CONCLUSIONS:Because rates of NBS are likely to rise, integrated intensive pharmacotherapy and psychosocial interventions are needed to help patients with NBS go off and stay off opioids. These programs will likely also reduce comorbid psychopathology and lead to adequate pain control and improved quality of life.

PMID: 25207609 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.