EFIC Position Papers

The European Pain Federation EFIC produces its own position papers, documents and standards on the topics of relevance to our work, our community and the education and management of pain.

EFIC Taskforce: Cannabis‐based medicines and medical cannabis for chronic pain management

European Pain Federation (EFIC) position paper on appropriate use of cannabis‐based medicines and medical cannabis for chronic pain management

Cannabis‐based medicines are being approved for pain management in an increasing number of European countries. There are uncertainties and controversies on the role and appropriate use of cannabis‐based medicines for the management of chronic pain. EFIC convened a European group of experts, drawn from a diverse range of basic science and relevant clinical disciplines, to prepare a position paper to empower and inform specialist and nonspecialist prescribers on appropriate use of cannabis‐based medicines for chronic pain. The expert panel reviewed the available literature and harnessed the clinical experience to produce these series of recommendations. Therapy with cannabis‐based medicines should only be considered by experienced clinicians as part of a multidisciplinary treatment and preferably as adjunctive medication if guideline‐recommended first‐ and second‐line therapies have not provided sufficient efficacy or tolerability. The quantity and quality of evidence are such that cannabis‐based medicines may be reasonably considered for chronic neuropathic pain. For all other chronic pain conditions (cancer, non‐neuropathic noncancer pain), the use of cannabis‐based medicines should be regarded as an individual therapeutic trial. Realistic goals of therapy have to be defined. All patients must be kept under close clinical surveillance. As with any other medical therapy, if the treatment fails to reach the predefined goals and/or the patient is additionally burdened by an unacceptable level of adverse effects and/or there are signs of abuse and misuse of the drug by the patient, therapy with cannabis‐based medicines should be terminated.

Please access the full text on the European Journal of Pain here
Use of opioids for pain management

While opioid prescription and use for pain management is a major concern in some parts of the world, the context of opioid use clearly differs between countries. Many countries in Europe have in place significant barriers to optimal pain management due to inappropriate restrictions on supply and use. Opioids are an important part of a modern approach to pain management and palliative care, and misplaced barriers to access can lead to unnecessary suffering.

Opioids are not a panacea for all types of pain, and must only be used in selected and supervised pain patients as part of a comprehensive, multi-modal, multi-disciplinary approach to treatment. In this context alone, opioid therapy is an essential and indispensable tool in achieving and maintaining an optimal level of pain control in selected patients.

The European Pain Federation calls for continuous medical education on the correct use of opioids in multi-professional and multi-modal therapeutic approaches. We also call for enhancing access to comprehensive pain assessment clinics and therapies and increasing funds for robust research on pain management.

Please find the full European Pain Federation position paper on appropriate opioid use in chronic pain management here.

EFIC CRPS Taskforce: Standards for the diagnosis and management of complex regional pain syndrome

Background

Complex regional pain syndrome is a painful and disabling post‐traumatic primary pain disorder. Acute and chronic complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) are major clinical challenges. In Europe, progress is hampered by significant heterogeneity in clinical practice. We sought to establish standards for the diagnosis and management of CRPS.

Methods

The European Pain Federation established a pan‐European task force of experts in CRPS who followed a four‐stage consensus challenge process to produce mandatory quality standards worded as grammatically imperative (must‐do) statements.

Results

We developed 17 standards in 8 areas of care. There are 2 standards in diagnosis, 1 in multidisciplinary care, 1 in assessment, 3 for care pathways, 1 in information and education, 4 in pain management, 3 in physical rehabilitation and 2 on distress management. The standards are presented and summarized, and their generation and consequences were discussed. Also presented are domains of practice for which no agreement on a standard could be reached. Areas of research needed to improve the validity and uptake of these standards are discussed.

Conclusion

The European Pain Federation task force present 17 standards of the diagnosis and management of CRPS for use in Europe. These are considered achievable for most countries and aspirational for a minority of countries depending on their healthcare resource and structures.

Read the full paper here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.1362

Position Papers Endorsed by EFIC

Pathophysiology and management of opioid-induced constipation: European expert consensus statement

Pathophysiology and management of opioid-induced constipation: European expert consensus statement

 

Background

Opioid-induced bowel dysfunction is a complication of opioid therapy, in which constipation is the most common and problematic symptom. However, it is frequently under-recognised and thus effective management is often not instituted despite a number of treatment options.

 

Objective

The central objective of this study is to provide a summary of the pathophysiology and clinical evaluation of opioid-induced constipation and to provide a pragmatic management algorithm for day-to-day clinical practice.

 

Methods

This summary and the treatment algorithm is based on the opinion of a European expert panel evaluating current evidence in the literature.

 

Results

The pathophysiology of opioid-induced constipation is multi-faceted. The key aspect of managing opioid-induced constipation is early recognition. Specific management includes increasing fluid intake, exercise and standard laxatives as well as addressing exacerbating factors. The Bowel Function Index is a useful way of objectively evaluating severity of opioid-induced constipation and monitoring response. Second-line treatments can be considered in those with recalcitrant symptoms, which include gut-restricted or peripherally acting mu-opioid receptor antagonists. However, a combination of interventions may be needed.

 

Conclusion

Opioid-induced constipation is a common, yet under-recognised and undertreated, complication of opioid therapy. We provide a pragmatic step-wise approach to opioid-induced constipation, which should simplify management for clinicians.

Full text available here.

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