Potential uses of topical opioids in palliative care--report of 6 cases

Pain. 1999 Mar;80(1-2):121-5. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3959(98)00211-5.


Opioids used topically may exercise several useful clinical effects. Opioids may cause immediate local analgesia and also may work indirectly through decreasing the inflammation process. In this article we describe six patients treated with topical opioids because of cutaneous pain due to tumor infiltration. skin ulcers of malignant and non-malignant origin, severe oral mucositis, pain due to knee arthrosis and severe tenesmoid pain. In all but one case, topical morphine provided rapid relief which lasted usually for 7-8 h. The side effects of topical opioids were none or minimal. Possible mechanisms of topical analgesia are discussed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Gels
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morphine / administration & dosage
  • Morphine / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Pain, Intractable / drug therapy*
  • Pain, Intractable / etiology
  • Palliative Care*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Gels
  • Morphine