Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Managing Acute Pain in Patients Taking Medication for Opioid Use Disorder: a Rapid Review.

Veazie S, Mackey K, Peterson K, Bourne D. Managing Acute Pain in Patients Taking Medication for Opioid Use Disorder: a Rapid Review. Journal of general internal medicine. 2020 Dec 1; 35(Suppl 3):945-953.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


BACKGROUND: Managing acute pain in patients with opioid use disorder (OUD) on medication (methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone) can be complicated by patients' higher baseline pain sensitivity and need for higher opioid doses to achieve pain relief. This review aims to evaluate the benefits and harms of acute pain management strategies for patients taking OUD medications and whether strategies vary by OUD medication type or cause of acute pain. METHODS: We systematically searched multiple bibliographic sources until April 2020. One reviewer used prespecified criteria to assess articles for inclusion, extract data, rate study quality, and grade our confidence in the body of evidence, all with second reviewer checking. RESULTS: We identified 12 observational studies-3 with control groups and 9 without. Two of the studies with control groups suggest that continuing buprenorphine and methadone in OUD patients after surgery may reduce the need for additional opioids and that ineffective pain management in patients taking methadone can result in disengagement in care. A third controlled study found that patients taking OUD medications may need higher doses of additional opioids for pain control, but provided insufficient detail to apply results to clinic practice. The only case study examining naltrexone reported that postoperative pain was managed using tramadol. We have low confidence in these findings as no studies directly addressed our question by comparing pain management strategies and few provided adequate descriptions of the dosage, timing, or rationale for clinical decisions. DISCUSSION: We lack rigorous evidence on acute pain management in patients taking medication for OUD; however, evidence supports the practice of continuing methadone or buprenorphine for most patients during acute pain episodes. Well-described, prospective studies of adjuvant pain management strategies when OUD medications are continued would add to the existing literature base. Studies on nonopioid treatments are also needed for patients taking naltrexone. PROTOCOL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO; CRD42019132924.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.