Get access

Long-Acting Opioids and Short-Acting Opioids: Appropriate Use in Chronic Pain Management


Perry G. Fine, MD, Pain Research Center, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, USA. Tel: 801-585-7690; Fax: 801-585-7694; E-mail:


In recent years, opioid therapy for the management of chronic noncancer pain has become more widely accepted following the publication of data demonstrating the efficacy of this class of drugs in a variety of pain conditions, including osteoarthritis, neuropathic pain, and low back pain. An array of short-acting and long-acting opioids has been formulated to help prescribers more effectively tailor the management of chronic pain based on the quality and temporal profile of the pain as well as the functional goals of the individual patient. Evidence suggests that both of these groups of medications offer unique benefits to individual patients and that neither is more efficacious than the other. Rather, both short-acting and long-acting opioids should be considered in the overall pharmacotherapeutic treatment of patients with chronic noncancer pain.