Opioid Incomplete Cross Tolerance Definition Essay

  • A thorough pain assessment is vital to the initial evaluation of a patient and must be performed to guide treatment decisions. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

  • Dosing may be done incrementally and titrated to analgesic effect. Particularly in those without prior analgesic use, effects are variable and overdosing in these patients can result in adverse events.

  • Individualize doses based on risk for adverse outcomes, prior effective doses, comorbidities, concomitant medications, and response to therapy.

  • Immediate-release opioids are recommended for breakthrough pain.

  • When possible, use the same class of opioid analgesic for long-acting (ie, 24-hour scheduled doses) and short-acting (ie, PRN doses for breakthrough pain) pain relief.

  • Dosing charts are guidelines only.

  • Most data are reported for opioid-tolerant patients so must be used with caution.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued recommendations for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. The recommendations included the following: [6, 7]

  • Nonpharmacologic therapy and nonopioid pharmacologic therapy are preferred for chronic pain. Clinicians should consider opioid therapy only if expected benefits for both pain and function are anticipated to outweigh risks to the patient. If opioids are used, they should be combined with nonpharmacologic therapy and nonopioid pharmacologic therapy, as appropriate.

  • Before starting opioid therapy for chronic pain, clinicians should establish treatment goals with all patients, including realistic goals for pain and function, and should consider how opioid therapy will be discontinued if benefits do not outweigh risks. Clinicians should continue opioid therapy only if there is clinically meaningful improvement in pain and function that outweighs risks to patient safety.

  • Before starting and periodically during opioid therapy, clinicians should discuss with patients known risks and realistic benefits of opioid therapy and patient and clinician responsibilities for managing therapy.

  • When starting opioid therapy for chronic pain, clinicians should prescribe immediate-release opioids instead of extended-release/long-acting (ER/LA) opioids.

  • When opioids are started, clinicians should prescribe the lowest effective dosage. Clinicians should use caution when prescribing opioids at any dosage, should carefully reassess evidence of individual benefits and risks when considering increasing the dosage to ≥50 morphine milligram equivalents (MME)/day, and should avoid increasing the dosage to ≥90 MME/day or carefully justify a decision to titrate dosage to ≥90 MME/day.

  • Long-term opioid use often begins with treatment of acute pain. When opioids are used for acute pain, clinicians should prescribe the lowest effective dose of immediate-release opioids and should prescribe no greater quantity than needed for the expected duration of pain severe enough to require opioids. Three days or less will often be sufficient; more than 7 days will rarely be needed.

  • Clinicians should evaluate benefits and harms with patients within 1-4 wk of starting opioid therapy for chronic pain or of dose escalation. Clinicians should evaluate benefits and harms of continued therapy with patients every 3 mo or more frequently. If benefits do not outweigh harms of continued opioid therapy, clinicians should optimize other therapies and work with patients to taper opioids to lower dosages or to taper and discontinue opioids.

  • Before starting and periodically during continuation of opioid therapy, clinicians should evaluate risk factors for opioid-related harms. Clinicians should incorporate, into the management plan, strategies to mitigate risk, including considering offering naloxone when factors that increase risk for opioid overdose, such as history of overdose, history of substance use disorder, higher opioid dosages (≥50 MME/day), or concurrent benzodiazepine use, are present.

  • Clinicians should review the patient’s history of controlled substance prescriptions using state prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) data to determine whether the patient is receiving opioid dosages or dangerous combinations that put him or her at high risk for overdose. Clinicians should review PDMP data when starting opioid therapy for chronic pain and periodically during opioid therapy for chronic pain, ranging from every prescription to every 3 mo.

  • When prescribing opioids for chronic pain, clinicians should use urine drug testing before starting opioid therapy and consider urine drug testing at least annually to assess for prescribed medications as well as other controlled prescription drugs and illicit drugs.

  • Clinicians should avoid prescribing opioid pain medication and benzodiazepines concurrently whenever possible.

  • Clinicians should offer or arrange evidence-based treatment (usually medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine or methadone in combination with behavioral therapies) for patients with opioid use disorder.

  • Conversion from oral or transdermal to parenteral route results in more rapid analgesic effects. In cancer patients this is successful 75-95% of the time.

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    2. Dalacorte RR, Rigo JC, Dalacorte A. Pain management in the elderly at the end of life. N Am J Med Sci. 2011;3(8):348–354.[PMC free article][PubMed]

    3. World Health Organization . Cancer pain relief. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1996. [Accessed December 5, 2012]. Available from: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/9241544821.pdf.

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