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Pain Meds.. Addicted or Not ?

dcassddcass Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:25 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi everyone ! I'll first start off by saying how great this forum is and how much useful info there is.

A bit of history about myself. I was in a car accident Sept 07. I girl ran a red light and t-boned me in an intersection. I rolled my Yukon twice. As a result I have three herniated discs. L3-L4 5mm, L4-L5 6mm, L5-S1 1cm. With the last level being so herniated and having so many issues with my nerves (weakness in my legs, tingling in my calves and feet, fatigued, nausea) I am scheduled for a laminectomy/microdiscecomy on Jan 6/09. I have been going to PT twice to three times a week since Jan of this year.

What my question is. I take Percocet for the pain, anywhere from one to three per day. When I take it life is great. If I don't I start feeling fatigued,nausea, irritable.

I'm just wondering when I don't take them, is it just the herniated disc symptoms I'm feeling or is it my body reacting to not having the Percocets. I do notice that it becomes a vicious circle taking pain meds. I take them, I feel great, and then I probly over due it physically through out the day and then my body feels it and then I take them the next day.

Is this happening to anyone else? Or is this normal ?
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Comments

  • You said that when you don't take them you feel fatigued, etc., but didn't say if your pain level increased. So do you take them for the "life is great" deal or because the pain is bad? Have you googled withdrawl symptoms? I don't know much about it myself, but I'm sure someone on here will give you more information. If I were you, I would only take them when pain dictates you take them. Otherwise, you could get into dangerous territory IMO.
  • Hi dcass. Im sorry about your accident. I also was Tboned. My car didnt roll but it was totalled.
    Anyway, about the meds, thats a whole can of worms. I know when I first started taking meds 5 yrs ago, I did get euphoria from them. As my pain has gotten so much worse, I do not get any high from my meds ( which have increased substancially from 5 yrs ago). I just get pain relief. When I do not take them I am extreemly irritable, nervous and the pain is thruu the roof. I cant walk without them. Im sure by now I am dependant on them physically and mentally. I dont know if thats the same thing as addicted. I think the more experienced members of this group can assist you. Take care and I wish you pain free days
  • I would have the same question as Joy. How is the pain? In my case, I wasn't on meds for an extended period of time, but I definitely didn't have good advice on how to get off the pills slowly. I had withrdawal for about a week, but I wouldn't consider myself addicted. Just mildly chemically dependent.

    There are less addictive (and less effective) pain meds out there. Perhaps a doctor can give you some transition advice.

    Good luck!
  • If you're only taking one to three a day, I would doubt you're addicted.

    That's not much at all. I have taken anywhere from 8 to 12 a day for the past nearly a year. I don't get sick without them but if I go more than like 8 hours without them my pain comes back hardcore.

    The thing about pain meds is that once the pain comes back, it's harder to get it under control. They say that if you have chronic pain, to continue on your pain medicine schedule, that will best keep it controlled.
  • Lo I wish someone would have told me that months ago(or found this site). i used to go as long as i could without taking them till I had no choice. I've since learned with this pain get on top and stay on top.
  • I can only give you my experience, which is - I recently asked my doc if I was at risk taking 2 Vicodin a day for pain relief until my surgery, so I'll be on them for a few months, he said I was not at risk.

    My litmus test is if I feel side effects - if they make me nauseous, or any euphoria, then I don't need them, otherwise they are addressing the pain. Again, this is just me, how my body seems to operate.

    I agree with Lo - stay on schedule. Its more important to address your pain right now, than to worry about addiction as you are not taking a huge dose. Post-op you will probably have a new med schedule and may want to then discuss with your doc.
  • I tried to stop cold turkey twice because the first one didn't last because I needed the meds to control pain before surgery. I jumped through so many hoops before I found the right people to care for me. I tried to do it again, cold turkey after a few days post-op. What a mistake that was. I was so sick, irritable, anxious, and emotional. I called the nurse and she suggested to either keep going and deal with the withdrawals or to start back up and taper off the meds. I guess it was hard to stop so soon after surgery because post-op they give you so much stuff to control the pain like oxycontin time release, dilaudin, etc. Stopping so soon makes your body freak out. When I saw the surgeon yesterday, 2 weeks post-op we duscussed it and I will taper off now as soon as my nerves in my back calm down. I don't say I am addicted but my body sure is and that I have to be responsible for. I will need to slowly taper off and ask for help when I need it. Truly addicted people use drugs to cope with personal pain not for documented pain factors.
  • I appreciate everyones responses and opinions. To answer some of your questions to my post. I'm in physical pain as well. Not just nerve pain. If I don't take a Percocet my lower back feels like someone took a bat to me. From my lower back to my hips and upper butt. It has like a achy bruised like feeling. Then the nerve pain runs down my butt to my lower thigh, nausea, fatigue just adds to it.

    I guess my concern is that I don't want to get into that dependable position before my surgury. But I guess by the sound of it I shouldn't be too concerned with only taking one to three Percs a day.
  • Keep in mind, everybody's body processes chemicals differently. What may effect some people one way, may not effect another.

    To answer one part of your question, opiod withdrawl symptoms do include low back pain. I've transported patients who were in terrible agony (according to them) because their back hurt. After getting to the ER the staff recognized some of these folks and they turn out to be drug addicts. The pain they are feeling is actually withdrawl pain and to them, is real. In a case like that, they need a professional drug treatment program. But, I'm off the topic...

    In my back pain/surgery experience, I was able to tell when I was taking meds because my back hurt versus the habit of taking the drug because I was a little uncomfortable. After two weeks post op, I called my surgeon and got a much milder pain medication prescribed, because what I was taking (20mg Lortab) every 6 hours was starting to feel a little too good and I didn't want to go down that road.

    If you can, and I know it's hard, try to limit the narcotic use before surgery. The problem with taking a lot before surgery is that you develop a threshold level in your body. There is only so much medication to reach the theraputic level doctors can give, typically because of respiratory suppression. That's why you will have a SPO2 meter on when in the hospital. If you are able to bring the threshold level down, it allows better pain management post op when the doctor puts you on more narcotics.

    It is a tough thing to go through. I wish you the best!

    Keith
    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • When you build up a tolerance, also, you can end up shit out of luck when it comes to post op. After my fusion surgery NOTHING worked. I had the maximum amount of Morphine through the PCA pump, with a constant flow, and every 9 minutes I could give myself my own dose... They upped it 5 times until they couldn't up the dose anymore... Then they switched to Dilaudid and injections of Valium and that barely made a dent in it.... Most of the time in the hospital I was feeling like hell. Dilaudid worked awesome after my MicroD, but I had only been on Percocet for a little while before that surgery... Before my fusion I'd been on it for months, and built up a good tolerance to opiates.
  • HELLO,

    I Also can give you my own personal experience. When my cervical pain and shoulder was in severe pain I was switched from vicodan to percocet 10mg 4-6 times a day. yes i needed that many i couldnt even lift my arm over my head or move my neck at all. And have a 2 year old to take care of.

    Before my doc left for vacation he wrote them out 120 pills to last a month. i been on percocet before on and off but never that many usually 30-60 a month to get thru some painful times.

    Well little did i know he would cut me off when i went in for a refill and boy did i suffer with withdraw. google it. i had the worst symptoms/

    I was vomiting, shaking and my pain was 10 fold probaly more do to the vomiting as everytime this happens it kills my back.

    My husband called my doctor and told him after the 4th day what was going on and said please doctor as her doctor and friend she is really suffering and explained the symptoms and he explained you understand why this is happening ask her. so in the middle of vomiting at the time and shaking i yelled yexs i do im withdrawing thanks to you doctor.

    my husband said look isnt there a better way this can be done maybe in a hospital due to the fact our 2 year old is wTCHING HIS MOTHER GO THRU THIS.

    so he called me in a 3 day script and told me to come pick up the prescription for the rest. good thing my gut feeling was to taper with those 3 days worth. because no prescription was ever given.

    so the taper worked and i was fine in a few days. just dont go cold turkey. I cant believe i had withdraw because i still had the vicodan which scares me because i have to go thru each medicine withdraw seperately i guess.

    if you are addicted its not your fault it how our body reacts to the meds. and i know what you mean when i get perscriptions for stronger meds i call it a pain vacation.

    its nice not to have pain and feel good at the same time. but i learned my lesson. as soon as my pain lessons so does the pills i take daily.

    this helps in the long run so the meds keep working by not taking full doses if not needed.

    dawn
  • Hi Dawn,
    I can't believe your doc didn't taper you off the pain meds! IMO, that is incredibly sadistic, irresponsible and just plain unnecessary. Some people choose to stop cold turkey, which is a terrible thing to do, if you're still having pain. When you stop, your pain level goes through the roof, as you now know. What, if anything, was your doc's justification for refusing to refill your pain scrip? If I were you, I would switch to a pain-management specialist, if you're still in pain that needs to be controlled. I am really sorry for what you had to go through.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Ladybirddeb
  • dcass said:
    What my question is. I take Percocet for the pain, anywhere from one to three per day. When I take it life is great. If I don't I start feeling fatigued,nausea, irritable.
    As EMS Guy pointed out, everyone's body processes chemicals differently and what may be a large dose to one individual, may be nothing to another. If you have been taking them regularly since September, it's quite possible that your body is depending on them by now and when you don't take them, it is complaining.
    dcass said:
    I'm just wondering when I don't take them, is it just the herniated disc symptoms I'm feeling or is it my body reacting to not having the Percocets. I do notice that it becomes a vicious circle taking pain meds. I take them, I feel great, and then I probly over due it physically through out the day and then my body feels it and then I take them the next day.

    Is this happening to anyone else? Or is this normal ?
    Well what you described is what happens to me. One thing to keep in mind though, is that pain, lower back pain, chronic pain ... can all cause fatigue, nausea and irritability.

    I hope that you are able to manage your pain until your surgery and that you have a successful outcome. Hang in there.

    "C"
  • ladybirddeb said:
    Hi Dawn,
    I can't believe your doc didn't taper you off the pain meds! IMO, that is incredibly sadistic, irresponsible and just plain unnecessary. Some people choose to stop cold turkey, which is a terrible thing to do, if you're still having pain. When you stop, your pain level goes through the roof, as you now know. What, if anything, was your doc's justification for refusing to refill your pain scrip? If I were you, I would switch to a pain-management specialist, if you're still in pain that needs to be controlled. I am really sorry for what you had to go through.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Ladybirddeb
    Happy thanksgiving ladybirddeb,

    Yes i posted my story when i first joined a month ago about my Dr. He must have got in trouble ecause when he came back from vacation he got rid of alot of patients. I wasnt one of them though, He confessed his perscription book was stolen while he was away and also pharmacy was going nuts for patients demanding there refills i hard.

    He is my pc doc not pain mananagement. I live in ny and no one i talked to so far never heard of the pain management medicine or contract thing.

    He told me to be grateful for the vicodan i get.

    Thanks alot doc. I pay the price i cried to him because you have junkies as patient , that dont even have problems. Get serious.

    He sent me to pain management yesterday after i asked him for something stronger to get thru the holidays. and i thought finally i will get help.

    well just an anesthia doc doing injections. had them before didnt work made it worse. [( :O
    AND I am paying the price today after cooking all day and the shot was a big mistake cause now im almost in tears from the pain shooting down both legs feeling like electric shocks. :''(

    Your comment was straight from the heart. :)))
    thanks for being so caring and concerned.

    DAWN
    HOPE YOU HAD A PAIN FREE HOLIDAY
  • than from addicting meds.

    It is a nice feeling not having pains and being in Euphoria.
    But being in Euphoria means being disconnected from real life.
    This makes e function less and desire less. I am too young for that!
    Y.S IL
  • Hi there from my experience I could tell the difference between taking the drugs for a feel good feeling and for pain relief. As soon as I realised it was for a feel good feeling I stopped and coped with the pain if it was mild in other ways BUT if the pain is bad and limiting normal activity then I take the lowest dose. Paradex(vicodin) and Tramadol, do make me smile more its really noticable but so does living painfree, and on days where pain is not really being bothersome I feel happy but not drugged out. EVEN THEN though my mind goes "mmmmm take a painkiller for that nice feeling it gives you" I believe thats a body addiction speeking. I also have an addictive personality.....in my life i've been addicted to coffee, ciggies, weed, chocolate, food, exercise, sex........ lol anything that releases endorphines some all at once...lol but what is great is with the power of choice we can break the addictions. Use the mind like is Uses you. take care.
  • PLIF/PLF with fusion? Just kind of confused, cause PLIF stands for Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion..... So not sure what PLIF with Fusion means... and how do they do a PLIF with a PLF? Did they put interbody cages in, and then put some bone graft between the spinous processes or transverse processes?

    I did not know they combine the two... That's interesting if that's the case.

    Just curious as to what exactly they did for your surgery.

    I apologize if it's simple and I'm just slow and confused over something obvious. Lol.
  • You are so on to it Lo. I left a word or two in, its busy with little people running around and studying for exams....if you want excuses.

    My surgeon did a posterior 360 degree fusion using plastic interbody R90 spacers packed around with my bone and rods and pedicle screws (legacy brand) and placed grafts between the transverse processes. This was due to the type of prolapse in the IVF zone the amount of bone he removed to get to the disc and his skills I guess.

    Great to achieve the good old 360 with only one big cut... after two c-sections don't really want to be opened at all ends - sides - and insides too much this lifetime.

    Thanks for asking


  • Ohhhh okay. I get it. Haha. Sorry if it was a dumb question. Totally understand the little people distractions. Lol :)

    Plastic spacers are awesome. Sounds like your doctor did a very intricate surgery... Very state of the art. That's great! How are you feeling lately? You are not too far post op... Are they assuming you will need your L4-L5 fused, too?

    That's pretty cool he did the 360 with one cut. I had my 360 with a 6 inch incision in my stomach... Makes a nice little T almost, with my 10 inch horizontal c-section scar. Lol. I have like, a 50 year old looking belly. And four incisions in the back. two small 1 inch incisions that are vertical, and two 3 inch incisions that are diagonal.


  • :D
    I had a strange case the first guy I saw couldnt even read my mri properly and confused my symptoms and even got the wrong side of my body in his reports, (thanks to www.chirogeek.com - I was better at his job than him except for the surgical abilities) so I wrote him a letter detailing my quality of life and that he must have not understood me accurately........BUT that was the best thing I could have done cause he then referred me to one of the top guys in my country. Who totally knew what was going on, fast tracked the surgery with the Acident co-op we have here (free medical). As for the disc above he is predicting a disc relpacement within 10 years.

    Funny story - or not funny.....after I told the other surgeon I was not happy with him my business partner treated one of his old clients (massage) and she had a big horror story of a bad fusion operation requiring her to be sent to the surgeons where I went to be fixed up 4 days post her op. My surgeon does re-operations for failed back surgeries. So that was a sign I had done the right thing.

    Yeah I was worried about the cutting me open business I think it Fuct's with your spirit and physiology and because there is potential for a couple more kids I know there will be those surgeries to contend to also. Not even thinking about more back surgery......gees.

    Did you have the Mininal invasive approach in the back - I have read alot about that procedure while I was trying to research mine?

    I am about 8 weeks post op and take no regular medication - just if I flare up or every few days or once or twice a week. But I am tollerating about the same discomfort as I did before surgery and sometimes less. I dont sit for too long and walking makes me feel better. I have been changed to voltarin a NSAID which helps alot but does make my stomach burn so I am going back to my herb formula and upping the antiinflammatory herb, it seemed to really work well then I stopped taking it cause thought I was better. sometimes killed pain creeps back I think. I need to do too many things to be on drugs they **** my mind up. My facet area RHS hurts and I have the same siatica Sx......I think I will wait a year before saying the surgery worked for that or not the L5 nerve root gangelion and S1 nerve root had been compressed for 10 months. The big 6 inch cut and muscle disection has decreased muscle function big time so PT is a must for a while now. As my 3 year old says...mummy can squat now.....lol

    How about you? What are your symptoms now I see you take a few medications.
  • They prescribed you NSAIDs with a fusion? That's interesting. Is it different because it's herbal?
  • No voltaren diclofenac is a pharmacautical...I read that they are contraindicated post op for fusion failure but it works better for me than the narcotics, I guess if the pain is inflammation then narcotics only try to mask the pain NSAID's resolve the cause....at a cost in a fusion?? Don't know I am not the expert. So what I have done is mixed up my herbs to make my own antiinflammatory mix that will not hinder the fusion process but increase its chances hopefully...there are herbs that rebuild connective tissue and bone to speed recovery I have learnt so I am testing them out. Had no signs of fusion at 6 week xray.

    NSAID's are pretty bad drugs but post surgeries really speed up recovery, so short term use is better.

    I think smoking would be more detrimental to a successfull fusion.
  • Hmm. Making your own herbal mix; that's cool. Pretty interesting.

    6 weeks is still early, so don't worry at all. I'm sure you'll see something hopefully within the next 6 to 8 weeks!

    Smoking is, of course, detrimental to the fusing process. Smoking, in general, makes back problems worse, is horrible for your discs, and your bone mass, as well. Most doctors say no NSAIDs for the first year. The inflammation is actually a normal part of the fusion healing. I forgot where I heard and read it, but I know someone on here was talking about how the bone growth is actually inflammation itself... Whoever it was, if you read this, care to explain? I forgot how that whole thing goes. Haha.

    I am not supposed to have any NSAIDs for the first year... But depending on how fast I fuse, I may be able to take them again before 12 months post op. I'm 2 months post op and fusing already, so who knows how long til I'm fully fused. When I get headaches and cramps and I'm PMSing I miss Ibuprofen. Tylenol just doesn't do the trick there.
  • Before surgery, I was taking the diclofenac for arthritis and the doc made me stop taking it one week prior to surgery. As it is an NSAID, he has not allowed me to start taking it again.
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