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The unsolved case of “bone-impairing analgesics”: the endocrine effects of opioids on bone metabolism

Authors Coluzzi F, Pergolizzi J, Raffa RB, Mattia C

Received 16 December 2014

Accepted for publication 14 February 2015

Published 31 March 2015 Volume 2015:11 Pages 515—523


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Garry Walsh

Flaminia Coluzzi,1,2 Joseph Pergolizzi,3,4 Robert B Raffa,5 Consalvo Mattia1,2

1Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Unit of Anesthesiology, Intensive Care Medicine and Pain Therapy, Faculty of Pharmacy and Medicine – Polo Pontino, Sapienza University of Rome, Latina, Italy; 2SIAARTI Study Group on Acute and Chronic Pain, Rome, Italy; 3Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, 4Naples Anesthesia and Pain Associates, Naples, FL, 5Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Temple University School of Pharmacy, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Abstract: The current literature describes the possible risks for bone fracture in chronic analgesics users. There are three main hypotheses that could explain the increased risk of fracture associated with central analgesics, such as opioids: 1) the increased risk of falls caused by central nervous system effects, including sedation and dizziness; 2) reduced bone mass density caused by the direct opioid effect on osteoblasts; and 3) chronic opioid-induced hypogonadism. The impact of opioids varies by sex and among the type of opioid used (less, for example, for tapentadol and buprenorphine). Opioid-associated androgen deficiency is correlated with an increased risk of osteoporosis; thus, despite that standards have not been established for monitoring and treating opioid-induced hypogonadism or hypoadrenalism, all patients chronically taking opioids (particularly at doses ≥100 mg morphine daily) should be monitored for the early detection of hormonal impairment and low bone mass density.

Keywords: opioids side effects, bone metabolism, fractures, OPIAD, endocrine system, chronic pain

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