Treatment of painful skin ulcers with topical opioids

J Pain Symptom Manage. 1999 Apr;17(4):288-92. doi: 10.1016/s0885-3924(98)00140-7.


Recent research suggests that opioid receptors on peripheral nerve terminals may play an important role in the modulation of pain. Clinical applications of this knowledge have been rather slow to evolve. We describe a consecutive series of nine patients with painful skin ulcers due to a variety of medical conditions. All patients were treated with a topical morphine-infused gel dressing. Seven of the nine patients experienced substantial and another experienced a lesser (but still significant) degree of analgesia. The ninth reported no relief, but his wound was not an open ulcer. Discussion centers on the practical application of this development in the large number of patients with painful skin lesions.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Bandages
  • Female
  • Gels
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morphine / administration & dosage
  • Morphine / therapeutic use*
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Skin Ulcer / complications
  • Skin Ulcer / drug therapy*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Gels
  • Morphine