Does Suboxone (buprenorphine) treat pain?

Buprenorphine (the main ingredient in Suboxone) is a potent opioid analgesic, and has been used intravenously to treat pain for over 30 years. More on Suboxone for pain here.

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Buprenorphine for pain

Yes. Buprenorphine has been used to treat pain.

In fact, buprenorphine is a potent opioid analgesic, and has been used intravenously to treat pain for over 30 years. However, in high, steady doses, people become tolerant to the effects of buprenorphine at the mu opioid receptor. Tolerance removes most of the analgesic actions of buprenorphine, limiting the pain-treating actions of the drug. But at the same time, tolerance removes most of the analgesic effects of ALL opioids, including oxycodone and other common pain medications. Because of tolerance, all opioid analgesics lose potency over time, including buprenorphine.

The effect of tolerance on analgesia

But chronic pain has a number of factors that alter how the pain is experienced, including placebo effects, the effect of mood on pain sensation, and the actions of natural pain-fighting nerve pathways. Many people with chronic pain continue to report benefit from pain medication, well beyond the length of time for tolerance to occur. Likewise, many patients report pain relief from long-term buprenorphine – even though tolerance would be expected to reduce analgesia from the medication.

More on Suboxone

Do you still have questions about Suboxone?  Please leave your questions in the comments section here.  Whether you’re interested in Suboxone addiction signs or the narcotic classification of Suboxone, we’ll do our best to respond to you personally and promptly.

About the author
Dr. Jeffrey Junig, MD, PhD is a psychiatrist practicing in northeast Wisconsin, in recovery from opioid dependence. He is Board Certified in both Psychiatry and Anesthesiology and holds a PhD in Neuroscience. He writes about buprenorphine at Suboxone Talk Zone, and manages a forum for patients taking buprenorphine called SuboxForum.
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