In this presentation, Christine Wakefield a Clinical Nurse Specialist, in Pain management, examines opioid induced constipation. Christine presents and considers bowel anatomy and physiology, bowel function, constipation, treatment options and clinical experience.
Opioids can induce constipation. It can have an impact on patients’ quality of life and also increase costs of healthcare delivery. Chronic constipation rivals pain in many patients and result in effects such as abdominal pain, nausea, reduced appetite and lethargy. More serious effects such as diaphragm displacement, resulting compromised cardiac function have been reported. There are pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatment options recommended, however, physicians should consider medication choices and ensure appropriate prescription of laxatives, along side the prescription of opioids.