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Use of opioids in the management of chronic non-cancer pain

Anita Gupta, DO, PharmD
Richard Rosenquist, MD
Section Editor
Mark D Aronson, MD
Deputy Editor
Marianna Crowley, MD


Pain is one of the most common reasons for patients to seek medical attention [1]. According to a 2011 Institute of Medicine report, approximately 116 million Americans are burdened with chronic non-cancer pain [2]. The use of opioids for the management of chronic non-cancer pain has increased over the last two decades [1-3].

This topic will discuss the use of opioids in the management of chronic non-cancer pain. Other treatments for chronic non-cancer pain and the use of opioids for palliation and for cancer pain are discussed separately. (See "Overview of the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain" and "Pain assessment and management in the last weeks of life" and "Cancer pain management with opioids: Optimizing analgesia".)

The use of opioids in the management of chronic pain from specific etiologies is discussed in the appropriate topics. As examples:

Diabetic neuropathy (see "Treatment of diabetic neuropathy", section on 'Opioids')

Low back pain (see "Subacute and chronic low back pain: Nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic treatment", section on 'Second-line therapy')

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 18, 2017.
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