Opioid therapy in patients with chronic noncancer pain: diagnostic and clinical challenges

Martin D Cheatle, Charles P O'Brien
Advances in Psychosomatic Medicine 2011, 30: 61-91
Chronic opioid therapy for patients with chronic noncancer pain has become controversial, given the rising prevalence of opioid abuse. The prevailing literature suggests that the rate of addiction in chronic noncancer pain patients exposed to opioid therapy is relatively low, especially in those patients without significant concomitant psychiatric disorders and personal and family history of addiction. However, the escalating rate of misuse of prescription opioids has resulted in many clinicians caring for these patients to be more judicious in prescribing opioids. Accurately diagnos ing addiction in chronic pain patients receiving opioids is complex. Managing the patient with pain and co-occurring opioid abuse is equally challenging. Diagnostic issues, current guidelines for the appropriate use of opioids in the chronic pain population and risk stratification models are examined. Pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatment strategies for the patient with pain and opioid addiction are reviewed.

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