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General considerations for the management of pain with any medication that contains an opioid mechanism of action

The following general aspects should be considered:

  • An individualized, patient-centered approach for the diagnosis and treatment of pain is essential to establish a therapeutic alliance between patient and clinician.
  • Consider patient variables that may affect opioid dose for each patient prior to opioid use1
  • In patients with acute pain e.g. post-surgery pain, the use of medication should be for the shortest necessary time1.
    All patients should be carefully selected, abuse risk factors evaluated and regular monitoring and follow-up implemented to ensure that opioids are used appropriately3-4 and in alignment with treatment goals (pain intensity and functionality) as agreed with the patient3-4
  • Patients should be made aware of the potential side effects of opioids and the potential for developing tolerance, dependence and addiction3-4.
  • It is important to optimally use multimodal, non-opioid approaches in acute and chronic pain before escalating to opioids or in conjunction with opioid therapy1
  • Addiction is possible even when opioids are taken as directed. The exact prevalence of abuse in patients treated with opioids for chronic pain is difficult to determine5
  • Regular clinical reviews are required for long-term opioid treatment to assess pain control, impact on lifestyle, physical and psychological well-being, side effects and continued need for treatment2
  • Any long term treatment with opioids should be monitored and re-evaluated regular incl. tapering down the dose or discontinuing treatment3-4
  • Signs of opioid use disorder should be monitored and addressed3-4
  • Patients and the general public can benefit from clear educational materials and awareness interventions to support the responsible use of opioids6.