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      Transdermal Buprenorphine for Acute Pain in the Clinical Setting: A Narrative Review

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          Transdermal buprenorphine is indicated for chronic pain management, but as its role in the clinical management of acute pain is less clear, this narrative review examines studies of the patch for acute pain, mainly in the postoperative setting. Although perhaps better known for its role in opioid rehabilitation programs, buprenorphine is also an effective analgesic that is a Schedule III controlled substance. Although buprenorphine is a partial agonist at the μ-opioid receptor, it is erroneous to think of the agent as a partial analgesic; it has full analgesic efficacy and unique attributes among opioids, such as a ceiling for respiratory depression and low “drug likeability” among those who take opioids for recreational purposes. Transdermal buprenorphine has been most thoroughly studied for acute pain control in postoperative patients. Postoperative pain follows a distinct and predictable trajectory depending on the type of surgery and patient characteristics. Overall, when the patch is applied prior to surgery and left in place for the prescribed seven days, it was associated with reduced postoperative pain, lower consumption of other analgesics, and patient satisfaction. Transdermal buprenorphine has been evaluated in clinical studies of patients undergoing gynecological surgery, hip fracture surgery, knee or hip arthroscopy/arthroplasty, shoulder surgery, and spinal surgery. Transdermal buprenorphine may also be appropriate pain medication for controlling pain during postsurgical orthopedic rehabilitation programs. Transdermal buprenorphine may result in typical opioid-associated side effects but with less frequency than other opioids. Despite clinical reservations about transdermal buprenorphine and its potential role in acute pain management in the clinical setting, clinical acceptance may be hampered by the fact that it is off-label and buprenorphine is better known as an opioid maintenance agent rather than an analgesic.

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          Most cited references 48

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          A review of chronic pain impact on patients, their social environment and the health care system

          Chronic pain (CP) seriously affects the patient’s daily activities and quality of life, but few studies on CP have considered its effects on the patient’s social and family environment. In this work, through a review of the literature, we assessed several aspects of how CP influences the patient’s daily activities and quality of life, as well as its repercussions in the workplace, and on the family and social environment. Finally, the consequences of pain on the health care system are discussed. On the basis of the results, we concluded that in addition to the serious consequences on the patient’s life, CP has a severe detrimental effect on their social and family environment, as well as on health care services. Thus, we want to emphasize on the need to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to treatment so as to obtain more comprehensive improvements for patients in familial and social contexts. Accordingly, it would be beneficial to promote more social- and family-oriented research initiatives.
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            Current knowledge of buprenorphine and its unique pharmacological profile.

            Despite the increasing clinical use of transdermal buprenorphine, questions have persisted about the possibility of a ceiling effect for analgesia, its combination with other μ-opioid agonists, and the reversibility of side effects. In October 2008, a consensus group of experts met to review recent research into the pharmacology and clinical use of buprenorphine. The objective was to achieve consensus on the conclusions to be drawn from this work. It was agreed that buprenorphine clearly behaves as a full μ-opioid agonist for analgesia in clinical practice, with no ceiling effect, but that there is a ceiling effect for respiratory depression, reducing the likelihood of this potentially fatal adverse event. This is entirely consistent with receptor theory. In addition, the effects of buprenorphine can be completely reversed by naloxone. No problems are encountered when switching to and from buprenorphine and other opioids, or in combining them. Buprenorphine exhibits a pronounced antihyperalgesic effect that might indicate potential advantages in the treatment of neuropathic pain. Other beneficial properties are the compound's favorable safety profile, particularly in elderly patients and those with renal impairment, and its lack of effect on sex hormones and the immune system. The expert group agreed that these properties, as well as proven efficacy in severe pain and favorable tolerability, mean that buprenorphine can be considered a safe and effective option for treating chronic cancer and noncancer pain. © 2010 World Institute of Pain.
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              Postoperative pain control.

              The effective relief of pain is of the utmost importance to anyone treating patients undergoing surgery. Pain relief has significant physiological benefits; hence, monitoring of pain relief is increasingly becoming an important postoperative quality measure. The goal for postoperative pain management is to reduce or eliminate pain and discomfort with a minimum of side effects. Various agents (opioid vs. nonopioid), routes (oral, intravenous, neuraxial, regional) and modes (patient controlled vs. "as needed") for the treatment of postoperative pain exist. Although traditionally the mainstay of postoperative analgesia is opioid based, increasingly more evidence exists to support a multimodal approach with the intent to reduce opioid side effects (such as nausea and ileus) and improve pain scores. Enhanced recovery protocols to reduce length of stay in colorectal surgery are becoming more prevalent and include multimodal opioid sparing regimens as a critical component. Familiarity with the efficacy of available agents and routes of administration is important to tailor the postoperative regimen to the needs of the individual patient.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                31 March 2021
                : 14
                : 871-879
                [1 ]NEMA Research, Inc ., Naples, FL, USA
                [2 ]Centre for Research and Development, Region Gävleborg/Uppsala University , Gävle, Sweden
                [3 ]Department of Medicine, Cardiology Research Unit, Karolinska Institutet , Stockholm, Sweden
                [4 ]Department of Pharmacy Practice, Temple University School of Pharmacy , Philadelphia, PA, USA
                [5 ]Decision Alternatives, LLC , Frederick, MD, USA
                [6 ]Paolo Procacci Foundation , Rome, Italy
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Jo Ann LeQuang NEMA Research, Inc. , 4005 Technology Drive, Suite 1008-V, Angleton, TX, 77515, USATel +1-979-824-0251 Email joannlequang@gmail.com
                © 2021 Pergolizzi Jr et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 3, References: 48, Pages: 9
                Funded by: No grant or funding;
                No grant or funding supported this work.


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