The potential harms of long-term opioids are well known. However, it is unclear whether rotation from a full opioid agonist to a partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine, is associated with improved pain-related outcomes and acceptable adverse effects in patients with chronic pain and long-term use of opioids. This systematic review of 22 studies that addressed prespecified outcomes of rotation to buprenorphine suggests with low-quality evidence that buprenorphine rotation was associated with reduced pain without precipitating opioid withdrawal or other serious adverse effects, and to aid mitigation of the harms of long-term opioid therapy.
PainSA is a chapter of the International Association for the Study of Pain. Our mission is to improve all aspects of pain management in Southern Africa.