Opioid-induced hyperalgesia: a qualitative systematic review

Anesthesiology. 2006 Mar;104(3):570-87. doi: 10.1097/00000542-200603000-00025.


Opioids are the cornerstone therapy for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Although common concerns regarding the use of opioids include the potential for detrimental side effects, physical dependence, and addiction, accumulating evidence suggests that opioids may yet cause another problem, often referred to as opioid-induced hyperalgesia. Somewhat paradoxically, opioid therapy aiming at alleviating pain may render patients more sensitive to pain and potentially may aggravate their preexisting pain. This review provides a comprehensive summary of basic and clinical research concerning opioid-induced hyperalgesia, suggests a framework for organizing pertinent information, delineates the status quo of our knowledge, identifies potential clinical implications, and discusses future research directions.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / chemically induced*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / complications


  • Analgesics, Opioid