Opioid analgesics are the mainstay medications for chronic pain that does not respond adequately to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or other relatively conservative approaches. Opioids are also associated with adverse gastrointestinal (GI) effects that affect a majority of patients on chronic opioid therapy. More than 80% of patients using opioids for more than 4 weeks experience at least 1 adverse event, with constipation, referred to as opioid-induced constipation (OIC), being the most common. Inadequately treated OIC can diminish patients ability to function and quality of life (QoL). In the United States, more than 200 million opioid prescriptions are written every year for noncancer pain, and while patients may develop tolerance to some adverse effects of opioid use, OIC is persistent and can occur at any point during opioid treatment. In this activity, the importance of evaluating patient risk factors and symptoms will be discussed, along with currently approved treatments for the management of OIC. To conclude, you will see an interview with an 84-year-old man who has had long-standing OIC to gain a patients perspective of what it is like to deal with having this condition.
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