Prescriptions of opioid medications for chronic pain (pain lasting longer than 3 months past the normal time for tissue healing) have increased dramatically, as have prescription opioid overdose, abuse, addiction, and diversion. Since most opioid trials do not extend beyond 6 weeks, they are of limited relevance for aiding clinical decision-making regarding long-term opioid use.
Researchers conducted a systematic review of published research to evaluate evidence on the effectiveness and harms of long-term opioid therapy for chronic pain in adults. They found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of long-term opioid therapy for improving pain and function. Serious harms of long-term therapy, such as risk for overdose and abuse and fractures, seemed to depend on opioid dose.
Article doi: 10.7326/M14-2559
Source: American College of Physicians