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Haunting of the phantom limb pain abolished by buprenorphine/naloxone
  1. Una Srejic1 and
  2. Faried Banimahd2
  1. 1Anesthesiology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
  2. 2Emergency Medicine, University of California Irvine, Irvine, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Una Srejic; usrejic{at}


Neuropathic opioid refractory phantom limb pain (PLP) following amputation can be a life long debilitating chronic pain syndrome capable of completely destroying a patient’s life. The pain, its associated depression and sleep deprivation can make many patients suicidal. Ever changing and relentless, it is notoriously unresponsive to traditional cocktails of strong opioids, adjuvant pain medications, antidepressants, local anaesthetics, nerve stimulators, hypnotics and psychotropics. Drug effects are seldom more effective than placebo. We describe a successful sustained rescue of a difficult 2-year-long PLP case with sublingual buprenorphine/naloxone using the drug’s potent multimodal mechanisms of action: potent long-acting mu agonist/antagonist, kapa receptor antagonist, delta receptor antagonist and novel opioid receptor-like 1 (OR-L1) agonist effects. Traditional escalating pure mu-opioid receptor agonists and adjuvant neuropathic pain cocktails often have disappointing efficacy in the treatment of resistant PLP. We suggest introducing buprenorphine/naloxone as an early effective opioid choice in PLP management.

  • anaesthesia
  • pain
  • drugs and medicines
  • foodborne infections
  • therapeutic indications

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  • Contributors US: researched, wrote and helped to prepare the manuscript. FB: helped to prepare and edit the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.