Normalization of Serum Cortisol Concentration With Opioid Treatment of Severe Chronic Pain


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Serum cortisol concentrations may be altered in severe, chronic pain due to excess stimulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Among 40 consecutive patients with severe, chronic pain 26 (65.0%) demonstrated abnormal serum cortisol concentration. After 90 days of treatment, only 7 (17.5%; p<0.01) continued to show abnormal serum cortisol concentration indicating that serum cortisol and other serologic abnormalities may serve as biologic markers of severe, chronic pain.