A recent study suggests that there may be age and sex differences among how well long-term opioid use helps to relieve chronic pain.

According to the study, published recently in Journal of Women’s Health, women—and especially younger women—are much less likely than men to experience good relief from chronic, non-cancer pain with long-term opioid use.

The study suggests that only 20% of women report low levels of pain and high levels of function resulting from the use of opioid therapy to help relieve their chronic pain, per a media release from Mary Ann Liebert Inc/Genetic Engineering News.

In the study, Linda LeResche, ScD, and her research team from the University of Washington School of Dentistry and School of Medicine, Seattle, and Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif, evaluated global pain status among chronic opioid therapy users.

The researchers report that young and middle-aged women are at particularly high risk for unfavorable global pain status, and this population also faces unique risks from opioid use, such as reduced fertility and potential effects of opioids used during pregnancy on the developing fetus, the release explains.

“Given the high rates of chronic opioid use in women along with evidence of poor relief from pain and concerning risks, particularly in reproductive-aged women, we need more effective and safer options for managing pain in this population,” says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, editor-in-chief of Journal of Women’s Health, executive director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, Richmond, Va, and president of the Academy of Women’s Health, in the release.

[Source(s): Mary Ann Liebert Inc/Genetic Engineering News, EurekAlert]