Transdermal fentanyl as treatment for chronic low back pain

J Pain Symptom Manage. 1997 Oct;14(4):218-24. doi: 10.1016/s0885-3924(97)00183-8.


Management of chronic low back pain often includes oral opioid use. The effectiveness of therapy is dependent upon compliance, which in turn is dependent upon response, side effects, access, and convenience. Our hypothesis was that a transdermal fentanyl system would provide more effective pain management than oral opioids. Fifty patients with chronic low back pain were examined. After litration to levels corresponding to current oral opioid use, each patient was maintained on transdermal fentanyl for one month. Oral opioid therapy was then resumed. Their experience was assessed with the a visual analogue scale for pain intensity, a numerical pain score, the Oswestry disability questionnaire, the pain disability index, and the Verran Snyder-Halpern sleep scale. Significant improvement in pain relief and disability was found with transdermal fentanyl compared with oral opioids. Mild opioid side effects were common, but easily controlled. Use of transdermal fentanyl is an effective alternative to oral opioids for managing chronic low back pain.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Fentanyl / adverse effects
  • Fentanyl / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Fentanyl