Buprenorphine for Pain Management

Taylor Nichols, MD
2 min readOct 24, 2023
Buprenorphine sublingual tablets in 2mg and 8mg doses — the most common dose formulations available

Buprenorphine is FDA approved for the treatment of acute and chronic pain as well as for the treatment of opioid use disorder.

Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid.

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist at the mu-opioid receptor.

The mu-opioid receptor is directly involved in pain control and pain sensation.

Therefore, as an opioid, buprenorphine IS a pain medication and can be used for the treatment of pain.

Buprenorphine comes in sublingual or buccal tablets or strips, transdermal patches (Butrans), or as an injectable liquid for IV use such as in the hospital (Buprenex).

Many people do not adequately understand buprenorphine as a partial-opioid agonist and buprenorphine may require higher doses to achieve adequate pain management for some patients. But buprenorphine absolutely is an opioid and as such, is a pain management medication.

Any suggestion otherwise is either intellectually dishonest or fundamentally does not understand pharmacology or biology.

Here are some references:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1892816/

https://www.chcf.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/PDF-WebinarOpioidSafetyBuprenorphineSafer06082016.pdf

https://rapm.bmj.com/content/rapm/46/10/840.full.pdf

https://www.jpsmjournal.com/article/s0885-3924(04)00566-4/fulltext

https://www.annemergmed.com/article/S0196-0644(03)01205-8/fulltext#%20

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Taylor Nichols, MD

Humanist. Emergency Medicine and AddictiEmergency + Addiction Medicine | Health policy and advocacy | Health tech and innovation