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Experience tapering off MS contin or other narcotics?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,731
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Pain Medications
I need to taper off MS Contin. I'm taking 30mg 4 times per day. I've never had a dependancy on a narcotic before. I tried to taper last week and even got down to 2 per day. Thought I was doing well but on Monday (2 days ago) I started feeling bad. I'm not sure what is from medication and what is now going back to normal baseline pain issues. Anyway, anyone want to enlighten me and give me suggestions to ease the way?


  • Is this per Drs orders or are you doing this on your own?

    How long have you been taking the 30mg 4 times per day?

    Wishing you the best >:D<
  • I agree with Robin are you doing this on your own or through your dr?
    Tapering off meds is something that really should be handeled by the dr that is perscribing them. As there can serious issues doing it on your own.

    Every time I was on a long acting med they cut it down by 1 then 2 and so forth so your body adjust.

    So if your taking 4 now. The dr would probably have you do 3 then 2 then 1 then to nothing OR lower your dose from 30mgs down till your able to come off properly.

    Let us know how you make out. ;)
  • hey
    i agree with above. i am an RN and have seen clients try to taper off meds. i always contact the doc to get specific instruction on how to do it. docs are really good about this.

    they will give u guidelines and instruction. u can do it. many have. good luck.
  • Thank you for your replies and concern. Let me be clear, I was not asking for instructions on HOW to taper and I am not going this alone w/out specific instruction from my personal physician. Last week when I began to taper I was doing so upon direct advice of my physician.

    I only hoped to get some friendly support from others whom have experienced the process and I thought maybe others would be able to give me pearls of wisdom based on their own experiences. You know, the little stuff that can ease the process. Like I said, I've never been in a dependency situation. Based on my experience thus far its going to be a difficult process, likely harder then we thought.

    My situation is very very complex. I was placed on the MS Contin back in June 2008. Four years ago I had 4 temporal fossa craniotomies. I'm left w/chronic post craniotomy headaches. (If interested, this is a type of headache classified in the international classification of headaches) I've also now got an unstable cervical spondylolisthesis also causing pain. Each of these types of pain issues generate serious problems. I'm delicate. The neck pain is a trigger for the head pain. If I allow my head pain to smolder it triggers a horrific headache to where I literally can't stop throwing up. Its really expensive to keep running to the ER etc.

    Recently I was seen by both a headache specialist and my neurosurgen whom performed all the craniotomies. The headache specialist wants me to go off the MS Contin and try something else. He is worried the MS Contin is causing rebound head pain and making things even worse for me. My neurosurgeon is concerned I have scar tissue or adhesions stuck to the dura of my brain. He wants to place a titanium plate where my skull bone flap was in order to separate the dura from the scarring etc. We need to make darn sure I'm experiencing pain from the dura if we're going to go to the trouble of the surgery. Its hard to remember how the pain felt (the naked truth) while being medicated like this. He can't simply experiment by just numbing the area because it would numb the brain and knock me out! Also, my primary care doctor who prescribed the MS contin wants me off because I keep losing weight to the point its becoming dangerous.

    The truth is, my doctor basically instructed me just like you say Terri. cut back one per week. But oh boy, is my head pain ramping up using this fashion. So yes, I did speak w/my doctor about getting smaller dosages to taper. He had me go back to 4 MS contin per week and stabalize. This is helping but I'm still getting pain like I have a spinal tap headache. He said to call him at the end of the week (tomorrow) and let him know how I am. He talked about starting over next week but I'm going to push it back one week because my husband will be away next week and I need to manage our business on my own! So I plan to work att his process slowly.

    Once again thank you for your replies. You seem like a group of really heroic individuals.

  • I'm sorry to hear of your situation.I've had spinal(tap) headaches,and suffer cervicle issues and the headaches associated with that..and quite frankly it will be hard to quit taking pain medication in my opinion.I've read your entire post and honestly it is a bit over my head(no pun intended-lol).Am I to understand that you won't be taking anything for the headaches?I hope that is not the case,but I see the Dr needs to understand the exact pain and cannot experiment..but I have no experience whatsoever there.I'm sorry.

    I've weaned off of meds before,but your situation is totally different.When I did this my pain was not so bad(years ago)and I have never taken MS Contin.I wish that I could be more help,but I feel I would be doing you a disservice if I tried to answer your question.I hope that someone else can be of more help than me and that you find all of the answers that you need.
  • Hey Robin, thanks for acknowledging me. No, the headache doc is going to be trying a different management and I'm hoping the Neurosurgeon will help with the pain issue too. Like I said, we're changing my treatment.

    I'd read somewhere that sometimes one becomes very anxious feeling while tapering off MS Contin. I noticed last week I became anxious which is not something I'm prone to in general. Now that I know this, am aware I may have an issue in the near future while trying to taper down, I'll be asking my physician about this and possibly be prepared with anti-anxiety meds just in case. Its this kind of thing I want to understand going into the process. Help clear the path. What kind of support aides help one get you thru it.
  • =D> great idea about asking for the antianxiety meds. a mild sedative will ease tension. u r right about that. i have seen many clients get anxiety and suffer from withdrawls . . . . i have come to believe the two go hand in hand.

    from my personal experience with this fusion surgery i was in excruciating pain. i am not a fan of any drug. i hate taking them.

    i found that taking a sedative along with a muscle relaxatant worked well for me. actually worked better than the narcotics.

    ps all written is from personal experience and should not be considered medical advice--> we should all add this disclaimer to our signatures----> of course it is all from personal experience
  • :) Mind you this is only my situation,but maybe it can help in a tiny way...or at the very least you might not feel so alone or that your feelings are unusual.

    When I weaned off of pain medication back in 2002 I did it kind of quickly and felt very anxious.At the time I was not taking any other medication other than my synthroid-but no meds for pain,muscles,stress,etc.,and my Dr(new Dr-long story) did put me on a pretty high dose of anti anxiety medication.My reasons for not taking pain medication however were personal,not medical and the personal issues themselves caused a great deal of stress alone.I have no idea how much stress I would have had/not had if the personal aspect had not been an issue.Or THE issue.Which alone makes our cases so very different.

    I have to be perfectly honest with you Bridgie
    and say that reading craniotomies,skull bone flap,titanium plate ...well,please excuse me but that made me nervous and I felt a bit out of my league to say the least.

    Weaning off of MS Contin,which in my understanding is a pretty potent painkiller,could (I could see) cause some stress.Not only from the weaning process and fear of pain,but the pain itself.I'm no longer taking any anti-anxiety medication on a daily basis,but am prescribed ativan .5mg 2x's daily as needed.I prefer the as needed as opposed to the type of medication that has to be taken daily to be affective for two reasons.The first being that it's faster acting and also because I don't have to take it every day.This might be something to keep in mind when you discuss your ideas with your Dr.

    With the business and your husband being away I can certainly understand why you would push the process back a week or so.I don't blame you for taking it slow and hopefully the Dr approves.

    YOU my Dear sound like the heroic individual!

    **A gift for YOU~image
  • I only try and put myself in ones situation when I have been relatively close to the same as theirs. I take the same dose as you bridgie, and this is all hypothetical with only helping in mind.
    Week 1. 30+30+15+30
    Week 2. 30+15+15+30
    Week 3. The 30mg MS CONTINuous Relief whenever pain is the worst morn./night+15+15+15
    Week 4. 15+15+15+15
    Week 5. 15mg MS CONTIN morning 10mg Immediate Release morphine sulfate as needed then 15mg MS CONTIN night
    Week 6. See where you're at.
    ;) I hope you can follow my muddled thinking as my PM Specialist would say it's more of an art than science. bridgie keep your chin up you've battled FAR worse. God-Bless and pass some of that chicken soup. Never meant to offend only encourage.
  • I tapered off that exact same doseage of mscontin. I had diarrhea and three days of bed rest( I left it cold turkey) My legs didnt barely have strength alot of muscle spasm but all in all it was a little easier than tapering off 5 mgs of klonipin.
  • Thanks everyone! You've inspired me! When I see my doctor I'm going to ask for a specific plan to help me along when I try to taper down. Also I see my headache specialist tomorrow and I'll get him to be more specific about switching over to his treatment plan. He'd just quickly handed me a few samples and sent me off the first time I saw him about one month ago. The thing is, he'd not read up about my history prior to my visit (PCP had faxed history) and sat down w/me and a blank piece of paper and asked about my headache history since childhood. I guess he'd figured I was a regular migrainer. Anyway, by the time I got to the first craniotomy he was overwhelmed and short on time. Its so frustrating to see a new doctor. My PCP also has me seeing a local neurosurgeon for another opinion about the head and neck surgeries. After my expereince w/the headache guy he called this NS ahead of time! Hopefully all this intervention will be helpful. ~X(
  • Im totally sorry we mis understood your first post. That was not the intention. It was just the way it was written.
    So I apologize for that. We were just unclear of what you were actually saying hun ;) ;) ;)

    I was on valium when wheening off meds. A BIGGIE for some of the withdrawal symptoms. That was when I was on lortab for my neck fusion. I quit cold turkey back in 04 I figured hmm my pain is better I will go on mortrin.
    at that time I did not know about withdrawal effects. OH BOY. I was nausea's, low energy, headaches. all over body ache like the flu with no symptoms.

    Now with the long acting narcotics I never ever had a issue with any type of symptom so goes to show how everyone reacts differently to medications ;)

    So yes to help you through the process relaxants, anti nausea meds, lots of HEAT. My heating blanket is like better then my husband sometimes =)) =))
    Fresh air walks outside if it does not cause to much pain to your body.
    HOT TUBS ok don't have one but they work!!! Thank god my neighbor does <:P <:P <:P <:P Havn't used it since last yr, because its usually a night out with drinks and then chill in the tub, but she is nice enough to let me use it during the day if needed, but of course I can't walk over there as I have major issues going on now.

    Ok Im way off track but as you get to know me you know thats how I am. I ramble and ramble when my meds kick in.
    Some people caution me on how many meds I can take while typing =)) =))

    Hang in there and again SORRY for mis representing your first post. It was not intentional of course we knew your meds were from a dr etc. There has been so many that have done it on their own thats why we asked hun.

    LET US KNOW HOW YOU MAKE out with the drs.
    Take care
    Terri O:) O:) O:) O:) O:) O:)

  • I saw the headache specialist today. He seemed off put I hadn't started the Topamax he recommended or gave samples and a rx. I'm suppose to work down on th MS contin while I titrate up on the Topamax. Well...it wasn't so easy and my husabnd didn't wanted me to change the program whle we were on vacation last week. He waas worried I'd end up in the ER. Still, I went ahead anywau like I explained and cut back by half of what I was on--too much for me while traveling. Traveling is a huge trigger. Now my husband is gone this week and I've learned a bit about how this will be affecting me. My husband and PCP thought I should stabalize (like I said) until he returned next week and then try to cut back and go on the topamax. This doctor said I was making excuses! He seems to not understand my illness. He seems to want to put me in a box that suits him. He's not listening. He's acting annoyed when I'm answering his questions. You know, making impatient type faces etc. I didn't feel like tellinghim about my discussion swith my neurosurgeon or the upcoming appt I've got now with a local neurosurgeon. He's just going to make some derogatory response. gosh..now that I've vented here, I'm going to contact my PCP and let him know my experience.
    Thanks guys.

    Hey Terry, I know you meant well and thanks for your help, see I rambled too....can't say I'm better at it then you however!
  • I'm sorry to hear that your headache specialist(Dr)is'nt listening..some can be like that I know.Have you ever taken topamax before?It was prescribed to me and is a migraine prevention med.You probably know this but I wanted to be sure ..anyway the topamax does help me but it causes weight loss which I seem to remember you mentioning was an issue with you.When I mention weight loss I mean that I have an extremely hard time losing weight and have lost weight every visit since starting the topamax 50mg.Im prescribed 3x's a day,and I only take it before bed(only one dose of 50mg)because it does make me tired and dry mouth.The weight loss is a bonus for me,but thought that I would mention it after remembering the problem you mentioned with yours.

    Every Dr should be working together with you to get the best results...this Dr should not be disrespecting you with facail expressions...and that IS showing blatant disrespect directly toward you.No patient deserves that..it really gets on my nerves when I hear that somebody is being mistreated in that manner.I'm sorry if I offended you by saying that...but these Drs that seem to demand respect should give it back as well.I show my Drs respect,and I expect it back in return.

    *lol*Sorry~I started fuming.My PCP and PM are great,but I've run across a couple in my lifetime that did not have much compassion or the good manners that surely they were taught as children.
  • Hi to all of you! To Bridgie:
    I tapered off of methadone last year and learned that the biggest withdrawal symptom was body aches, mostly legs. I had been on the drug for 3 years. It took a good month to feel better - my point is: I knew that the body aches were a symptom of withdrawal since my original pain is headaches. I understood my dr to say that many people experience flu like body aches (bad ones) when tapering off a med.
    Now I have had surgery and am recovering but am looking at tapering off many meds in the not to distant future and am scared too: ms contin, oxycontin,codeine sulfate, some muscle relaxers, neurontin and my biggest fear - zoloft (200mg a day).
    So, I am certainly NO expert on any of this but have had headaches for 11 years- daily, so I do have some stories and treatment experiences for sure.
    Take care
  • Robin, you are saying and feeling exactly as I am feeling but its so hard to be a complainer everytime my PCP sends me to a new specialist. I'm NOT hypercritical, I'm just aware of what immature behavior looks like. The thing is, the doctors have only so much time and get "worked up" when I start to tell them of all the cranies! I'm left to deal with their upset over me! Its ridiculous but perhaps one way to weed the good from the not so good out.

    You'll be happy to know I emailed my PCP after ? wrote here last night. I told him about this doctors manners and everything. I told him I'm concerned he's unwilling to listen to me and he's basically puttig me into a overly simplified box. Still, if it turns out he's somehow correct about my headaches, it would be great. The only way I'm willing to experiment and try the topamax and back down on the MS Contin is simply because I know my PCP will be there for me and I told him this.

    So we're going to talk at the beginning of next week and come up with a more finite plan for backing down on the MS contin.

    Looks like you too have got you work cut out as well. Boy, if you are able to cut down on meds due to success of surgery that would be great! I hopeful this may be the case for me someday. Not sure if I'm ready to undergo surgery but its a happy notion to think I could get better this way.

    Thanks all,
  • Hope all is going well. Best of luck to you hope the vacation was enjoyable (8)
  • Hi all. I've started to taper off again and its going pretty well. Just went down one pill this week. more pain and some anxiety. Saw a new Neurosurgeon. My PCP sent me to him. He does not ant to do anymore surgery n me and cause anymore trouble for me since I've been thru so much already. He wouldn't want to operate where anther surgeron operated before and wnats to be very conservative with my neck.

    I've now thought about what he said and what other doctors have been saying and its starting to accumulate and erupt inside me. I hate the fact i worked so hard and graciosly managed to survive the infection as I did only to live within this continual state of demoralization and not get the care I deserve in prime of my life. I've decided I will not take his advice, I'm going to find a doctor who will fuse my neck. Then I may have a plate placed where the bone flap was. I may get a hearing implant inserted so I can finally hear. Right now we're having trouble with our business. So it will likely take until next year to afford to have this done. I may have to get another job if I can manage to hold one down in order to pay for my hearing device that is placed after the implant is healed.
  • bebe_52bbebe_52 Posts: 31
    edited 09/04/2012 - 6:16 AM
    Hi everyone,

    I see my pain management doctor on Friday to discuss weaining me off my medicines. Honstly, I am scared. I don't know what to expect. I had revised surgery on July 5th and the back pain I used to have is gone. Now, it is only a lot of pressure in the area where the surgery or hardware was placed. L4-S1.

    I start work full time next week. I need to wean off because my memory is so bad I am so embarrased. Also, when I complete the questionaires it is not pain it is pressure, exhaustion from therapy.

    Only thing is I will be sitting for 8 hours a day and starting a new software, just writing about this I am already stressed.

    Would love to hear from others if this is what is normal after 2nd fusion to repair the first.

    I take 40 mg oxycontin 3 times a day and six 15 mg oxycodone per day. I am walking about 45 minutes a day, water therapy and floor exercises. In between, keeping up with housework and am ready to go back to work.

    I need my mind clear to learn the software since I have been out for two months.

    Any advice is appreciated. Oh, I do take skelexin, prozac and klopin .5 as needed. There is so much tension at home all the time. Other thing is I take either Lunesta or Tinzidine (generic name) to sleep. But then I dont wake up until 10:30 or 9:00. My ortho said I can go back to work with no restrictions. Other problems are severe tension on neck due to fused disc I guess.

    Well, I better get going to PT. Love you guys. One day or moment at a time!

    I will be praying for everyone.

    I try reducing and end up taking it at the sight of presurre.
    11/30/2010- 360 bi level fusion L4 L5, L5 S1
    7/5/12-Revised surgery. Remv of loose hwdware, replace 6 pedicle screws and 5.5 titanium rods. Inferior laminotomy R L5 and facetectomy to deep ligamentum.
    2014 MRI indicates L3-L4 disc bulge,
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,448
    edited 09/04/2012 - 7:47 AM
    You are on a lot of oxycodone ( both Oxycontin and oxycodone IR contain the same opiate but I'm sure that you know that). The best way to taper off your meds is under the guidance of your Pain management doctor. Generally, they reduce the dosage by anywhere between 10-25% of your total daily dose and then keep you at the reduced dosage for a few days to a week, then reduce it again, until eventually you are off altogether. The good news is that a taper, properly done should leave you experiencing little effects but maybe feeling a bit like you are getting the flu. Maybe some nausea, yawning, watery nose, possibly some diarrehea and those symptoms can be managed by over the counter meds if needed. Anti diarreheals if you need them, gatorade for the upset stomach to keep your electrolites in balance, coke syrup you can buy in the pharmacy eases upset stomachs really well.....
    I can tell you from experience that it is easier to adjust to bigger reductions in dosage when you are tapering in the beginning. When I was on oxycontin and oxycodone , I reduced my dosages by half early on, then as I got lower in my total daily dose, I reduced my reductions by 20% to make the withdrawal symptoms easier....
    I hope that your PM doctor provided you with a written tapering plan and discussed what you should do to manage any minor withdrawal symptoms you may have. If not, I would call him and ask for a written tapering plan.
    Whatever you do, once you start tapering, stay with the reduced dosage- do not take any more than you are supposed to take, otherwise, it defeats the purpose of tapering altogether. Did I read correctly that you are taking the meds anyway, even though you are supposed to be tapering if you get stressed ? Or did you mean if you feel pressure?
  • Hi Sandi

    Thank you for replying. I saw my PM and we discussed a plan to start tapering of the meds. We started already by reducing the oxycontin mg down to 30 mg. He said it would probably take 6 months. I am glad to hear this because I don't know what to expect once I start working.

    I've been on meds since 1994 so its difficult to think I can actually be off meds and finally healed. I trust in God and know He is above all things and will be with me during this time.

    Regarding stress, I need to learn to breathe and practice other forms of dealing with life one day or moment at a time. Again, I'm in God's hands and know He has great plans for me. His work in progress.

    Thank you for sharing what I could expect. What I was wondering was if anyone experienced the same type of pressure on their back after revised hardware.

    Thank you!
    11/30/2010- 360 bi level fusion L4 L5, L5 S1
    7/5/12-Revised surgery. Remv of loose hwdware, replace 6 pedicle screws and 5.5 titanium rods. Inferior laminotomy R L5 and facetectomy to deep ligamentum.
    2014 MRI indicates L3-L4 disc bulge,
  • I've been taking 30mg of mscontin every 8 hours for a year or so.

    Her plan is to take 1 30mg every 12 hours for 10 days.

    Then 1 30 mg every day for 10 days.

    Then stop.

    Is this doable? Am I going to feel terrible withdrawals?
  • anyone and i mean anyone who is going off pain meds should and i mean should be under a doctor's care. they know exactly how to taper and how much to wean you off. i did it myself a couple of times and i never had the horrible withdrawl symptoms like some of you. i had diahreah , sleeping issues, and i was a bit grouchy but i went to work and managed to work. it only lasted about 3-4 days then it was no sweat. also there is something one can do to get off rapid detox where they put you under and give you a narcotic antagonist. you are under from 8-12 hours then when you wake up, you are off the meds without any withdrawl symptoms. i am not sure how much it costs and if some insurances do it or if even all pain drs do it. i have talked to people who have done it and they swear by it. talk to your pain dr if you need to get off meds. some drs require patients to get off meds before they go under surgery so they can manage pain better. if you don't need to then why do it? i have been on pain meds for 12 years now,
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
  • I've heard that is pretty expensive though
    C3-4-5 fusion 2005
    C-5-T-1 disk bulged
    L-4-5 bulge to the right, with Microdiscectomy, failed
    L5- Bi-Lateral bulge
    Pain in right foot -loss of feeling
    Left butt, hip and front thigh pain with bad shooting pain into inside ankle sometimes
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