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What Is Buprenorphine Injection Used For?

If you have moderate-to-severe pain, a healthcare provider may prescribe buprenorphine injections. This drug is primarily used for relieving pain following a surgery or in cases where other common painkillers, such as morphine or fentanyl, are not an appropriate treatment. There are also unapproved (off-label) uses for buprenorphine injections, including pain relief during labor and childbirth and for addiction treatment.

An Overview of Uses for Buprenorphine Injection

The buprenorphine injection (Buprenex®) is a prescription medication approved to treat moderate-to-severe pain. It is typically used in hospitals or other similar settings, as it is given by injection into a muscle (intramuscular injection) or by intravenous infusion (by IV).
 
As an example, a buprenorphine injection might be used to treat pain after a surgery. In the "real world," this drug is most often used when other, more commonly used pain relievers (like morphine or fentanyl) are not tolerated or should not be used for other reasons.
 
Unlike some other forms of buprenorphine, the buprenorphine injection is not approved for treating opioid dependence or withdrawal.
 

How Does This Medication Work?

Buprenorphine is an opioid narcotic medication. Buprenorphine binds to a specific type of opioid receptor, called the opioid mu-receptor. Opioid mu-receptors are located throughout the body. While the main effects of buprenorphine occur in the central nervous system, buprenorphine can produce effects anywhere opioid mu-receptors are found.
 
Some of these effects, such as pain relief, are desirable. Other effects are undesirable and cause the side effects associated with buprenorphine injection use. Effects of buprenorphine 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.
 
Interestingly, buprenorphine is a partial (not full) agonist of mu-receptors. This means that it binds to the receptors, but only partially activates the receptors. This usually translates to less chance of abuse, although this is not always the case.
 
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Buprenorphine Injection Information

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