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Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 Mar 2024 - 7 Mar 2024

2024 Mar 01

Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol


Problems with opioids beyond misuse.


Kheirabadi D, Minhas D, Ghaderpanah R, Clauw DJ


The U.S. is grappling with an opioid epidemic, with millions of adults on long-term opioid therapy (LTOT). Although patients often report pain relief and improved daily function with opioids, research shows no significant differences in short-term outcomes between opioid and non-opioid users, as well as no long-term opioid benefits. This scoping review aims to identify lesser-known side effects of long-term opioid use and increase awareness of them, allowing healthcare providers and patients to better assess the risks and benefits of opioid use. Our data search from PubMed and Google Scholar used keywords related to opioids, chronic pain, hypogonadism, endocrinopathies, cancer progression, cardiovascular events, renovascular events, sleep disturbances, mood disorders and others, narrowing down to English-language full articles published from January 2018 to April 2023. This review emphasizes the probable serious adverse consequences of long-term opioid use on various body systems in patients with chronic pain. Given the lack of long-term benefits and significant adverse effects, our review underscores the critical need for healthcare providers to include these risks in discussions with patients when considering the long-term use of opioid therapy.