HealthDay News — Reductions in opioid dosing might improve pain and function, as well as boost quality of life, according to a report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The review by Joseph Frank, MD, a primary care physician at Denver’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and colleagues included 67 studies on reducing or discontinuing opioid therapy prescribed for chronic pain. Forty of those studies looked specifically at how patients did when their medication dose was lowered.

The researchers found improvement in pain severity, function, and quality of life. The team said, however, that the quality of the evidence in the studies was very low.

“In most studies in this review, opioid tapering involved slowly decreasing the dose of the medications over time, while working closely with a team of pain experts and using multiple non-opioid pain treatments,” Dr Frank told HealthDay.

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Frank JW, Lovejoy TI, Becker WC, et al. Patient outcomes in dose reduction or discontinuation of long-term opioid therapy: A systematic review. Ann Intern Med. 2017;167(3):181-191.