Management of opioid-induced constipation

David Prichard, Christine Norton, Adil E. Bharucha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Up to 40% of patients taking opioids develop constipation. Opioid-induced constipation (OIC) may limit the adequate dosing of opioids for pain relief and reduce quality of life. Health professionals must therefore inquire about bowel function in patients receiving opioids. The management of OIC includes carefully re-evaluating the necessity, type and dose of opioids at each visit. Lifestyle modification and alteration of aggravating factors, the use of simple laxatives and, when essential, the addition of newer laxatives or opioid antagonists (naloxone, naloxegol or methylnaltrexone) can be used to treat OIC. This review discusses the recent literature regarding the management of OIC and provides a rational approach to assessing and managing constipation in individuals receiving opioids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S4-S11
JournalBritish Journal of Nursing
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2016


  • Chronic pain
  • Constipation
  • Laxatives
  • Methylnaltrexone
  • Naloxegol
  • Naloxone
  • Opioids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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