Opioids May Help Cognition in Noncancer Pain. (Oxycodone/Acetaminophen, Fentanyl)

Article excerpt

CHICAGO -- Long-term use of certain opioids at stable doses does not significantly impair cognitive ability or psychomotor function in patients with chronic noncancer pain, Robert Jamison, Ph.D., said at the annual meeting of the American Pain Society.

In fact, in some cases, the cognitive function of patients actually improved, he said.

While on stable doses of oxycodone/acetaminophen or transdermal fentanyl, 144 patients with chronic low back pain demonstrated an overall improved ability to concentrate and perform timed hand-eye coordination tasks over a 90- and 180-day period, Dr. Jamison said in a poster presentation.

In addition, among many study participants, memory, incidental learning, and psychomotor performance actually improved, said Dr. Jamison of the department of anesthesia at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston.

The study examined the theory that because pain can adversely affect cognition, pain relief has the potential to improve cognitive function.

Higher pain intensity at baseline was most predictive of improvement on neuropsychological rests, probably due to the ameliorating effects of opioids on pain rather than the opioids themselves, Dr. Jamison said.

Participants were randomized to 5 mg oxycodone with acetaminophen up to 12 tablets/day or transdermal fentanyl with a titrated dose up to 100 [micro]g every 3 days for 90 days, and then crossed over to the other medication. …