Opioids for Chronic Pain of Non-Malignant Origin: Caring or Crippling
Large, Robert G.
Schug, Stephan A.
Health Care Analysis. 1995 Feb; 3(1): 5-11.
Pain management has improved in the past few decades. Opioid analgesics have become the mainstay in the treatment of cancer pain whilst inter-disciplinary pain management programmes are the generally accepted approach to chronic pain of non-malignant origin. Recently some pain specialists have advocated the use of opioids in the long-term management of non-cancer pain. This has raised some fundamental questions about the purpose of pain management. Is it best to opt for maximum pain relief and comfort, or should one emphasise function and activity as higher priorities? Will the use of opioids create more autonomy for pain sufferers or will this add handicaps to lives which are already limited? Until more clinical outcome data are available we advocate caution in the use of opioid analgesia. Such caution can, and does, raise questions about the rights of the patient and the rights of the prescriber in a context where the facts do not point to a clear course of action.
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