What Is Fentanyl Patch Used For?

The fentanyl patch can help relieve moderate-to-severe pain in people who have not had adequate pain control using other opioid medications. This medicated skin patch is only used for treating chronic pain; it is not meant to be used for treating short-term pain. Adults and children as young as two years old can use the fentanyl patch.

An Introduction to Fentanyl Patch Uses

The fentanyl patch (Duragesic®) is a prescription skin patch approved to treat persistent, moderate-to-severe chronic pain. It should only be used to treat pain that is not adequately controlled with other pain medications and that requires continuous, around-the-clock treatment.
The fentanyl patch is meant to be used on a regular schedule. It is not approved for "as needed" or short-term use. It should also not be used to treat mild pain, acute pain (pain expected to last only a limited amount of time), pain that can be controlled with occasional pain medication, or pain from surgery or other medical or dental procedures.
This skin patch is an opioid narcotic medication. It should only be used in people who have already been using opioids and who are tolerant to the effects of these drugs. In general, people are considered opioid tolerant if they have been taking at least 60 mg of morphine, 30 mg of oxycodone, 8 mg of hydromorphone, or an equivalent dose of another opioid every day for at least a week.

How Does This Medication Work?

This skin patch contains fentanyl, a very strong opioid narcotic medication. Fentanyl patches continuously release fentanyl in the same amount over a three-day period.
Fentanyl binds to a specific type of opioid receptor, called the opioid mu-receptor. Opioid mu-receptors are located throughout the body. While the main fentanyl effects occur in the central nervous system, fentanyl can produce effects anywhere opioid mu-receptors are found. Some of these effects, such as pain relief, are desirable; other effects are undesirable. Effects of fentanyl may include but are not limited to:
  • Pain relief
  • Drowsiness
  • Changes in mood, including feelings of unease (dysphoria) or unusually pleasant feelings (euphoria)
  • Cough suppression
  • Slowed or shallow breathing
  • Slowing of the digestive tract
  • Physical dependence.


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