Opioid Prescribing Guidelines for Chronic Pain Management

“As multi-morbidity [multiple diseases/conditions & symptoms] increase with ageing, chronic pain is often one of these co-morbidities. One of the pharmacological interventions commonly used in its treatment, is the use of opioids. However, opioids are relatively ineffective in treating chronic pain, although they do have a place in the treatment repertoire. Moreover, there is national & international concern about the potential associated harms with increased opioid prescribing”[1]. And this is why leading Pain Specialists promote holistic Personalised Treatment Plans which incorporate various different treatment modalities. – This thus reduces or negates the use of pharmaceuticals & provides state-of-the-art pain relief solutions & innovative cutting-edge treatment options

So What Opioid Prescribing Guidelines Do Pain Doctors Follow?

In the UK, Pain Specialists (who have received years of extensive training and expertise over and above the majority of GPs), follow the latest medical guidelines in relation to their prescribing. Indeed, they concentrate on delivering safe patient-centred care, by; “promoting safe prescribing and practical review of opioids to prevent addiction and dependence“[1].

The aforementioned runs in tandem with the Pain Doctor ensuring that their patients are given the necessary information to make shared decisions. – Thereby enabling non-pharmaceutical management and self-management of their long-term pain. Of note, the prime goal of all Pain Specialists, is to deliver effective safe treatment; and to reduce any opioid dependence, and adverse reactions to withdrawal. Moreover, as a rule of thumb, patients who are suffering from chronic pain, and are on a high dose of opioids (more than 50mg of morphine per day, or the equivalent), are given a regular review by their Pain Doctor (around every six months). This is due to the fact that the risk of harm substantially increases at this dose, or higher [1].

The Pain Consultant will regularly review a patient’s status, to check on their quality of life. They will also see if they are suffering from any adverse side effects from their prescribed opioids, and determine whether they could benefit from any changes in pain relief. Furthermore, if feasible, the Pain Doctor may consider gradually reducing their opioid medication to the lowest effective dose [1].

“Evidence supports the effectiveness of psychological & physical approaches in improving the patient’s quality of life, & opioids should only be used as a part of a wider treatment plan.” – So find out what a Pain Specialist can offer you to rapidly get your life back on track


[1]. NHS Scotland (2020). “Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain: A Quality Improvement Resource.”