What Are We Treating with Chronic Opioid Therapy?
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- Krashin, D., Sullivan, M. & Ballantyne, J. Curr Rheumatol Rep (2013) 15: 311. doi:10.1007/s11926-012-0311-1
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The recent increase in the number of patients taking opioids chronically for pain has not yielded the expected benefits in reduction of symptoms and improved function. Chronic pain patients typically respond well initially to opioid medications, but regular use is associated with adverse psychological and physical effects. Patients with significant psychiatric comorbidity and substance use issues are more likely to stay on opioids and to receive higher doses. In the common rheumatological conditions of fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, opioid treatment is of limited benefit because of lack of efficacy and prominent side effects. Chronic opioid therapy may be more usefully regarded as a form of comfort care, reserved for those patients who have exhausted other treatments and prospects of recovery.