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Opioids play an important role for the management of acute pain and in palliative care. In contrast, the role of long-term opioid therapy in chronic non-malignant pain remains unclear. There are concerns regarding analgesic tolerance, paradoxical pain and issues with dependence that can occur with chronic opioid use in the susceptible patient. In this review, we discuss how far human neuroimaging research has come in providing a mechanistic understanding of pain relief provided by opioids, and suggest avenues for further studies that are relevant to the management of chronic pain with opioids. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Original publication




Journal article


Trends in Anaesthesia and Critical Care

Publication Date





244 - 248