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Pain Res Manag. 2004 Spring;9(1):19-24.

Chronic noncancer pain and the long term utility of opioids.

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  • 1Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To report on a long term experience in treating patients with chronic noncancer pain (CNCP).

METHODS:

One hundred two patients with CNCP were seen every three months and followed for one year or more (median eight years, range one to 22). Demographic data, diagnostic categories and response to therapies were recorded. The utility and safety of opioid therapy, adverse events, impact on disability and issues related to previous psychiatric or chemical dependency history were documented.

RESULTS:

Most patients reported a variety of neuropathic pain problems and most required chronic opioid therapy after the failure of other treatments. Although 44% reported being satisfied with pain relief despite adverse events, it is noteworthy that the remaining patients chose to continue therapy for the modest benefit of pain relief despite adverse events. Moreover, 54% were less disabled on opioid therapy.

CONCLUSIONS:

This is a large sample of CNCP patients, most taking opioids over a long period of time. CNCP can be treated by opioids safely and with a modest effect, with improvement in functioning in some patients who are refractory to other measures. If care is taken, opioids may even be used effectively for patients with a history of chemical dependency.

PMID:
15007399
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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