Summary of the 2022 Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain

All Patients Should Receive Safe and Effective Pain Treatment Options

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People who live with pain may experience many challenges. Getting safe and effective pain treatment should not be one of them. CDC cares about the health, safety, and well-being of patients with pain. CDC is committed to supporting patients and clinicians working together to make informed, individualized decisions about safe and effective treatment for pain care.

The CDC Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain (2022 Clinical Practice Guideline) is voluntary guidance for clinicians that was created to help inform decision making. The 2022 Clinical Practice Guideline was developed because CDC recognized that clinicians need current recommendations for prescribing opioids to improve pain management and patient safety. The 2022 Clinical Practice Guideline and corresponding clinical tools are designed to help clinicians and patients.

The 12 recommendations found in CDC Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain–United States, 2022 can be summarized by the following actions:

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1) Determining whether or not to initiate opioids for pain,

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2) Selecting opioids and determining opioid dosages,

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3) Deciding duration of initial opioid prescription and conducting follow-up, and

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4) Assessing risk and addressing potential harms of opioid use.

The Benefits and Risks of Opioid Tapering

Emerging data support clinicians’ carefully weighing the benefits and risks of tapering, or gradually reducing the amount of opioids, along with the benefits and risks of continuing opioids. Although clinicians and patients might not always be able to agree on whether tapering is necessary, the 2022 Clinical Practice Guideline describes an approach to implementing treatment changes in a patient-centered manner while avoiding patient abandonment and supporting the need for clinicians to have shared decision making with their patients.

The 2022 Clinical Practice Guideline does not support rapid dosage tapering, patient abandonment, or abrupt discontinuation of opioids. Scientific evidence, changes in opioid prescribing, and patient input shaped the 2022 Clinical Practice Guideline’s content, format, and increased focus on acute pain, tapering best practices, and safe and effective non-opioid treatment options.

Guidance for Clinicians Working with Patients on Pain Management

CDC provides guidance to help clinicians know how to work with patients to manage pain. This guidance emphasizes:

  • Individualized patient care
  • Safe and effective pain management options
  • Improving communication between clinicians and patients so they can make decisions together about the best care for the patient
  • Reducing risks associated with opioid pain therapy, including opioid use disorder, overdose, and death

The 2022 Clinical Practice Guideline does not apply to patients experiencing pain in the following conditions or settings:

  • Pain management related to sickle cell disease
  • Cancer-related pain treatment
  • Palliative care
  • End-of-life care
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