WHO Pain Ladder

December 11, 2009

The World Health Organization has developed this three-step pain ladder to guide proper administration of medication in order to "maintain freedom from cancer pain."

The World Health Organization has developed this three-step pain ladder to guide proper administration of medication in order to “maintain freedom from cancer pain.” The ladder calls for “around-the-clock” (every three to six hours) rather than “on-demand” administration in the following order: nonopioids (aspirin and paracetamol), mild opioids (codeine), and strong opioids (morphine) “until the patient is free of pain.” Adjuvants should also be used to reduce anxieties, while surgical intervention may also be appropriate. The WHO claims that this method is 80-90% effective.

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