An update on the role of opioids in the management of chronic pain of nonmalignant origin

Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2007 Oct;20(5):451-5. doi: 10.1097/ACO.0b013e3282ef6b18.


Purpose of review: To summarize and reflect over primarily recent epidemiological and randomized controlled trials in opioid-treated chronic nonmalignant pain patients, focusing on effects, side effects, risks and long-term consequences of the treatment.

Recent findings: In the western world opioids are increasingly being used for long-term treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain. While the long-term benefits of opioids regarding pain relief, functional capacity and health-related quality of life still remain to be proven, studies are emerging that describe serious long-term consequences such as addiction, opioid-induced hyperalgesia, cognitive disorders, and suppression of the immune and reproductive systems.

Summary: Much more research is needed concerning long-time effects and consequences of opioid therapy in chronic nonmalignant pain patients; however, some clear warning signals have been sent out within recent years.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / etiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Time Factors


  • Analgesics, Opioid