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How long on strong meds

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,900
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:22 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had a PLIf w/ instrumentation (L5-S1) on 18 Aug. I am just wondering how long most of you were on hard meds )opiates). I find that nights are much more difficult for pain control.


  • Hi JT, I had PLIF on Aug 5 and I am still on narcs, though much less. When I got out of the hospital I was taking Norco 10, 2 tablets every 4 hours, and even setting alarms to make sure I didn't miss a dose. Also skelaxin 800mg every 6 hours. Now I am taking Norco 5 mg aboout 4 times a day. Am trying Soma 3 times a day instead of Skelaxin (expensive). I agree nights are the worst for some reason. It has just been a gradual decline of needing the narcs. I stopped setting alarms and began to take more on an as needed basis and have slowly just needed less. Wish I could take Motrin, but no can do for fusion patients :) Take care, and keep taking them as long as you need to, no need to suffer any more than you have to, Sue
  • 1 year on Percocet...I take about 3 a day....10/325's.

    Having my hardware out tomorrow...hope it helps with that so I can get off them.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,728
    On my first fusion surgery L4, L5, S1, anterior posterior I used narcs. for 6 weeks. But remember, everyone is different.
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • I was on 7.5 percocets 4xs -6xs a day for 3 months. Then cut down to 5 mg hydrocodone 2x's a day
    Orginal surgery was 9/9/07. I was off meds by
    2/08. But like said everyone is different in their rate of pain and recovery.

    Good luck!!

  • People are gonna hate me for this but....I never took ANY pain meds-my TLIF was aug 5th. I will say the reason I did not take them was NOT because I was not in pain-but rather because they make me throw up! They gave me 4 different kinds of meds to keep me from throwing up from the anthesia-but it did not work! Once I got that out of my system (2 days I was sick)-I did not want to chance taking pain meds. I WILL say-that I am 3 weeks post op-I do not even need tylenol (really since about 2 weeks post op). I guess everyone's tolerances are different.
  • Like Shay, I can't tolerate narc either. So it was fortunate that after my L3-S1 fusion in May, once the doc removed the morphine pump after two days, I did not have any pain so I took no meds. I still bless my surgeon as I think that was because of his extraordinary skills. But before the surgery he told me that should I need to take pain meds, he would give me Percocet.

  • Kinpain-Hey! No fair! You got a morphine pump?? My ns perscribed morphine and percoset but never offered a pump-you did not get sick from that?
  • Sure did. That was the worst part of surgery. First I got the headache, then got nausea, and finally threw up. Not a good thing after surgery. So on day two the pump was removed and I have been fine ever since.

  • I had my fusion surgery in Feb. 2008 and was on pain meds until mid April and haven't had one since. Take them while you heal then slowly cut back until you feel you don't need them. Everyone heals differently so don't get frustrated. Give you body the time it needs. Good Luck!

  • Kinpain-I threw up for 2 days-just from the anesthesia! So, I know what you mean about it being the worst part! It felt like someone was stabbing me in the back with a butcher knife every time I got sick! Wish they could come up with something that would not make me sick! They gave me 4 different kinds of meds to prevent it but nothing worked.
  • I must have an insane tolerance....

    After my microD in recovery I was on Valium, Percocet, Morphine, AND Dilaudid... They gave each pain med 15 mins or so to kick in and when it didn't they moved up to the next strongest. Dilaudid was the only thing that worked for me. And I kept dozing off but I didn't feel sick at all and never got nauseous or threw up. I currently take 2 percs every 4 hours and never get nauseous. My body must love pain meds or something...Lol.
  • I think I lucked out in the pain med department...

    I have a high tolerance to narcotics, so I was taking 10mgs of percocet every 4 hours before surgery, then after just a little microD I had Valium for the anxiety, 2 or 3 Percocets, a few injections of Morphine, and this is all within an hour... STILL complained and they gave me a bunch of injections of Dilaudid on top of all that.... I spaced out like crazy, but didn't feel any pain. For some reason they are good to me about that. My NS still gives me 90 percs a week.... Granted, if I wasn't waiting for another surgery, she'd probably wean me off of them, but... I never have any problems getting the meds I need. If I need muscle relaxers, I just call and request them. The other day she doubled the strength of my Flexeril without me even asking for it. They are the first Drs office I've ever had that didn't give me major drama.
  • Maybe you are!! But if we were all that lucky would we be in pain so much?! LOL
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,714
    is as long as they are still needed! My Pain Mgt doctor has always told me that while you are in pain AND that you do all the things that you have been told to do , pain medications ar fine. Point in case, I have not had surgery since 2000, but dealing with Thoracic problems the past 2 1/2 years, I'e been on pain medications almost regularly since that time.
    Only in the past couple of months, have I eliminated Oxycontin ER from my medication blend
    So How Long is How Long?
    That really depends on the individual. We are not text book cases, so there are always exceoptions
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • It sounds like some of your docs are drug pushers! Harsh-I know. I believe that you should be given pain meds when they are needed but at what point do they draw the line on the amount of meds AND the length of time? With so many people being addicted to pain meds-aren't you at all concerned? I am just 3 weeks post op-I really have not needed even tylenol since 2 weeks post op. I know that I may be the exception-but it still makes me wonder.
  • My surgeon is a genius..probably the best back surgeon on the West Coast and he has written papers in the medical journals on back surgery and pioneered a procedure. I had a doctor friend of mine look his credentials up pior to surgery...he is a Harvard fellow and he associates with a very fine group of doctors and Neurosurgeons in Los Angeles, mostly all Harvard trained.

    I would hardly call him a drug pusher!

    Maybe you have an extremely high pain tolerance.

  • My doctor is FAR from a med pusher. I requested pain meds, and I have to call every week to request a refill, and then go pick it up. I don't get refills preloaded, and in MA, you can't call narcotics into a pharmacy, you have to walk in with the paper and show ID, it's illegal otherwise.

    I have a high tolerance for everything.... narcotics, alcohol, etc. My entire family does. It's not my fault it takes a lot to make a dent in the pain... It is what it is. But my doctor is safe about it, which is why she switched me to Oxycodone (percocet without the tylenol) so that it didn't destroy my liver or do any damage to my body. If I don't take the pain meds, I can barely walk. At 22, with a child to take care of, I need to walk. So I don't care if people judge me for being on pain meds, or think I have a low pain tolerance... I don't at all. BUT why would I choose to feel pain if I don't have to? I don't plan on weaning myself off pain killers until AFTER my fusion surgery, and after physical therapy. My NS office is the best around, and the head NS there graduated first in his class from Boston University... And gives seminars worldwide. They know what they're doing.

    If someone has a history of chemical dependence, then yeah, doctors should be careful... Otherwise, there is nothing morally, ethically, or physically wrong with taking medicine so that you can function day to day. We don't all have someone to take care of us. Some of us have to do every single thing on our own, and would like to be able to stand up when we wake up in the morning.
  • It's not necessarily a person's pain tolerance, it's each person's individual body. It is not a universal pain... Surgery feels different depending on the person.. Which is why some people get up and walk no problem, and others need walkers. Which is why some people can have 6 herniated discs and feel no pain, and others can have one and feel tons. Each person is different, and if someone is taking their meds responsibly, a normal dose, normal intervals, then who is anyone to say they are wrong? There is a difference between taking care of your pain, and being recreational.
  • Thanks for rubbing your success in /:) I had the same fusion levels done as you - but also 7 other procedures. I still need my pain meds. I am trying to have a good outlook and stay positive- but some days are hell still.

    Please do not expect each of us to recover at the same rate as you. If I need pain meds until next year- Thank God my doctor will give me them.

    I heard from a friend of mine that rarely do people in pain actually abuse pain meds.

    My body may be dependant on the pain meds in order to get through the day- so I can go to the market for my family, clean the kitchen, or do a load of laundry. But it is a far cry from addiction.

    Your Buddy,
  • This is a loaded issue for sure. I keep trying to stop my pain meds but my husband and doctor keep telling me that I should not if I am feeling pain. Sadly one of the reasons I keep thinking I should be past needing them is...because of other people. I am trying to grow up (I am 48) and not care what "society" thinks..it is my life not someone elses. I also know that even within my body pain can be different. Before I had surgery my primary doc told me that I tollerated pain to well and that in a case like this (spine issues etc) that really wasn't a good thing.

    I wish I was a better writer but I 'm not so bottom line...

    You are your own best policeman..I think that if you're in pain and it affects your life then why should you not use the medicines that have been developed for this. I talked with my doc about addiction and being worried (no I don't have any addiction problems I just worry) and he quite frankly told me that he didn't see that as I had TRUE pain and if it did happen they have things to help you off it anyway.

    Good luck to all in pain and I am so sorry that we feel we have to justify our pain so much. :T

  • Very, very well put lotsofinfototakein
  • Ive been on Percacet 10mg since March 7th. I could not be on vicoden cause it makes me sick. BUT I like percacet. I have had a rough time getting off. Im now 1/2 pill about 12 hours now. doing well
  • ....1/2 every 12. I look forward to that myself and eventually being off them.

    Are you a guitar player?
  • Is not bad at ALL. I take 3 to 4 pills of oxycodone without tylenol every 4 to 6 hours... I have to or the pain is so bad I can't even stand up or walk....

    1/2 every twelve hours or even 1 every twelve hours is totally fine... Good job :)
  • I had my knee done first. Mostly because it had waited 5 year - until I reached Medicare. I did ask my back surgeon if the back would support the knee and it said it would. However, the knee I had replaced last year is hurting now and I can't figure out why. It had stopped that. I am going to call my knee surgeon (who, I think assisted on my back) tomorrow to see what he thinks.

    In some ways, the knee was worse, but emotionally, the back was worse (2 level fusion with instrumentation) probably because I could do more with the knee. IF it didn't cause the knee to hurt - do it.

    Good luck on yours.
  • I have found that I have a high tolerence for pain meds. I need a high dose to even make a dent in my pain levels.

    I was on morphine 700mg a day + 180ml of Oramorph - it did nothing for me apart from make me hallucinate twice - not fun! Docs put me on Fantanyl Patches 150mcg/hr - they didnt help with the pain so they took me off them. I am now on Oxycodone 80mg twice a day.

    I am worried that if I am on this strength of pain killer now what on eart are they going to give me when I have my surgery? This is causing me real worry.

    As for length of time, as its been said we are all individuals, we all know our bodies best. We all have a repsonisbility to ourselves to do what is best for us at the time, and if we get into difficulty ie meds not working, or bad side effects we will do whats right and get advice about whats best to do.

    As for being a druggie, don't think so. I use a pill pot so I can take my meds when Im supposed to, my husband knows what I am taking and when as I have written it done for him.

    My mum thought I could take a paraccetamol (weak pain med) for my back, then I collapsed in the grocery store and then she got a little insight as to what I was going through.

    Sorry for long post. I am trying to keep strong and remember the adage there is always someone more worse off than you. I guess when you are in pain all day long you can easily forget that, and become focussed on yourself - hope that makes some kinda sense.

    Love Danni oxo
  • Like Kinpain and Shay I did not tolerate narcotics well at all either.

    When the 10 day supply of 5mg Roxicodone ran out (I had stretched it out to about 15 days) I never got around to getting a refill and have just had tylenol since.

    Have there been days I wish I had some - yes. Mostly nights when I try to sleep. The Valium never did work for the achy nerve pain I get in my legs as I try to sleep.

    Although, I did find something this last week that has stopped that ache: Laughter and being passionate about something (don't be thinking like that - my DH is in Iraq, so none of THAT kind of passion /:) ) What I did was attend the Storytelling Festival and I laughed so much each day that I had tears running down my face =)) - when I came home each night I was exhausted, but the stories would just keep running through my head - there was no room for pain.

    Laughter - the best medicine for me :)

    p.s. Don't be trying this TOO soon after surgery! I watched the show 'Wipeout' just days after coming home from the hospital and laughing too soon, particularly when you can't STOP laughing, was a bit painful! #o
  • HI, I'm new here and from reading your blog I can see that you are living with back pain, like many others! I hear about some people having back surgery and not having to take any pain meds and living a normal life, but I've never met one!! I've had three surgeries so far and I've been in pain since the first one, 18 years ago!! Basicly I feel no one should have any kind of surgery unless it's life threatening or if the pain is so bad that you just can't live with it! Keep your original equipment as long as you can! I suffer every day of my life and take 100mg oxy,40mg tab,20mg val,4somas and recently started lyrica up to 600mg per day! I'm still in pain most of the time and I just wanted to inform any of you out there that hasn't yet used lyrica for nerve pain, you should try it! It definitely helps for the severe nerve pain, especially sciatica! I have come a long way since my first surgery and my heart goes out to anyone that has endured any kind of back surgery! I say if your Doc thinks you need pain meds and they work, at all, then thank God you can get them! I know for a fact that anyone that "truly" is suffering with back pain will not abuse their meds!
  • If you are taking 80mg of Oxycontin twice a day, I would be sure and discuss post op meds with your doc and also help titrating off that level of oxycontin once your pain is under control.

    I went into surgery on an ungodly amount of opioids and knew it would be impossible to titrate down without some serious help. I had been on the opioids for a couple years and was very physically dependent. So the decision was made to do rapid detox under general anesthesia after the surgery. It worked and I no longer use opioids for pain control.

    Pain medications have their place in treating chronic pain. The key is having a doc that understands you and understands the medications, enough to keep your pain tolerable and your life functionable. There are many people who are on them for the rest of their life. It's simply treating a problem with the right drug. How long, is something that none of us are qualified to determine.

  • I'm sorry you're in such agony :( That has got to be so rough. Kudos for getting as far as you have.

    My understanding, based on my Neurosurgeon and Ortho was that if surgery is indicated for the right thing, it's very rarely going to fail, or make things worse. Sometimes, they aren't entirely sure what is causing someone the pain and problems, so they go with their best guess. I think now a days, thankfully, there are more definitive tests which aid in the selection process.

    You are right about the last part... I get judged so much for being 22 and taking pain killers multiple times a day. Everybody (meaning people in my life, not anyone on this board) assumes I am taking them to get high or for recreational purposes. It actually kind of upsets me... I don't like people thinking I'm not sincere or honest. I genuinely need them.... They all say I'm going to get addicted and that they know all these people that don't take them, and they respect them for it, blah blah... Very insulting. I think pain meds are a personal choice. My doctor keeps up on blood tests with me to check my liver function... So there's no chance I'm abusing them, or it would show in my levels. My Neurosurgeon keeps a copy of every narcotic prescription they give me. They haven't said anything at all to me about lowering the dose or getting off them... I doubt they will until after my next surgery. I appreciate your sentiment there... It's good to know that some people truly do understand!
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