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How Long after Surgery do I need to be on Pain Meds?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,607
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:26 AM in Pain Medications

My Surgeon sent me to a Pain Management Doctor a month before my surgery which I thought was weird because I figured I wouldn't need to be on pain meds long after the surgery, but I'm in more pain now than before. It's only been a week since my 2 level cervical fusion and I went to the PM Doctor the other day as they had to increase my meds. I'm currently taking Roxicodone 15 every 3 hours and I'm still in pain, but my question is, how long am I going to be on pain meds for? I know everybody is different, but I would like to hear some of your experiences on this.
Thank You,


  • It sounds like your surgeon wants pain mgt. to handle medications, it's done like that sometimes. They deal with post op pain care.
    It's hard to say how long you'll have to take meds. I've been on Fentanyl patches, Norco, muscle relaxers, cymbalta and motrin about 7 months since my 2 level fusion with instrumentation. The pain is chronic and it never improved post op. This happened to me last year too when I had a microdiscectomy. I just never got better despite numerous treatments. My last option now is an SCS or morphine pump.
    It's still early in the recovery for you and it will take some time to heal. I hope you get to feeling better soon. Take care
  • I thought the purpose for surgery is to be out of pain or at least, experiencing less pain. I didn't expect to be in more pain. My PM Doctor was talking to me about the patch before my surgery but I was afraid to go on it, now I think I'd rather be on it because I wake up during the night in pain. How do you feel about the patch verses pills?
  • Wow......8 weeks and your still in pain. I do take Skelaxin at bedtime and it does help a little. You have to wait that long before PT? I go to my Doctor on Monday so I'm going to ask him a lot of questions. I too work at a computer most of the time, but I don't have to go back to work until I'm ready.......so are you taking more meds since surgery or less now?
  • With the patches, you put one on every 3 days, some do every 2 days. You don't worry about taking pills every few hours and Fentanyl is a very potent medication,
  • ..and I still take Valium daily for the muscle spasms & dilaudid (morphine dirivitive) PRN for chronic pain...

    Sometimes asprin helps, as do ice packs, but this is chronic now & I figure (as does my NS) that if pain meds help me to be productive (working, getting back into my life etc) it's worth it.

    Everyone is different. Someday I hope to be able to function w/o this stuff, but for now....

    I still take a sleeper at night also, as that's when I really feel the effects of the exertion of the day & realize I still have a long way to go. NS is still my "pain mgmt doc"--did have a pain mgmt doc between surgeries 2 & 3, but that was mostly injections which only made things worse.

    Kimmy, you are still very early post-op...pain will still be there, altho it does get better eventually, or "changes" into other things, etc.

    It's just part of the fusion fall-out, I believe.

  • Yep, still have pain. Apparently, my doc is very conservative and takes things verrrrry slow. I'm still in my soft collar and no PT until end of January. I felt ready to come back to work, but only part time. Had I known how hard it is to sit at my desk even for only four hours, I might have waited to come back.

    As far as the meds, It's probably the same or a little less than after surgery. Specifically, I take Flexeril/10mg about 3 times a day and Hydrocodone/5/500mg anywhere from 1-4 a day. Doc says I can take two Hydrocodone at a time, but I rarely need that much relief.

    I'm anxious to hear what your doc says. Are you wearing a collar?
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 10,312
    After surgery?

    That is a very difficult question to answer. As you have read, some people have taken them a long time after surgery.
    There isn't really a cookbook when it comes to the time you should no longer need pain medications after surgery. I do know that some surgeons believe that 8 weeks is more than enough time, while others say 4

    I have not had any surgeries since 2000 and yet I am still taking pain medications. About two years ago I started with Oxycontin ER in different dosages. It was only this past
    May timeframe did I finally stop using that. But I am still using Oxycodone IR 5mg every day. Each individual is unique and all circumstances need to be considered.

    The objective of the pain medications is to get you through the roughest time during recovery. When that is complete and you are starting to regain some spinal stability, pain medications may stop. And I say MAY...

    This decision rests with you and the doctor (surgeon or pain management doctor) who is administering your medications
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • kimmyg ask your Dr, every question under the sun, keep a pad beside you when questions arise. You read any surgeons fine print and you'll find a phrase that states basically NO guarantees were given or implied, when you sign the consent form. NOBODY, not your PCP, not your Surgeon, not your PM doctor can answer your original question. They, as we, can guess and thats it, a cold hard fact. They can tell you what is expected, then when acute becomes chronic the fun really begins. Surround yourself with the best team you can, even then it can easily become a failed surgery. BTDT.

    Sounds as if Cath111 is on her way back to a full recovery and for now it was a success. If you feel 4 hours are too much please voice your concerns and let NOBODY push you into something that is painful. Sounds as if you're handling it well. Congratulations!

  • Hi Kimmy.

    I'm 8 weeks out and still take pain meds and muscle relaxers. My pain was more manageable about three weeks out of surgery, but the spasms have been consistently there. This week my pain has been a bit more difficult because I'm back at my desk job part time. Computer work puts quite a strain on the cervical spine and I'm feeling it every day. My doc says that's normal and to anticipate that the pain won't diminish until after my PT which begins the end of January.

    Just my experience.
  • Thanks for all your post on this topic. I had surgery on 12/9 and called my surgeon for refill last week. My meds were changed from Percocet to vicoden (this workds fine for me).

    My nurse mentioned that my doctor wants all of his patient weaned from narcotics by six weeks, I would assume this is common but I must admit I am worried about this. Anyone have a dr that has this "rule"?
  • Yes, I'm wearing a soft collar but I do take it off periodically.
    My Surgeon's nurse told me that they were sending me to a Pain Management Doctor (this was about a month before the surgery) because my doctor does not like to give narcotics for any length of time or give anything stronger than vicodin, except for right after surgery, and that I would probably benefit by going to one.
    At first I was reluctant to go, but now I'm so glad I did. My Surgeon had given me Percocet for after the surgery and when I got home, the Percocet weren't even touching the pain. I did see a pain management Doctor while I was in the hospital and he changed my meds to something stronger and he wanted to give me a prescription before I left the hospital but I told him I didn't need one, that my Surgeon had given me one before I even went into the hospital and needless to say, I was in so much pain that I had to go see my PM doctor and he gave me something stronger that didn't take the pain away all together, but made it bearable.
    So, I'm glad that I'm under a Pain Management Doctors care, but I'am hoping that someday soon I will be able to be off all medications.
    Thank You for all your input, this board is so helpful and hopeful..........
  • when I had my last meeting with my NS about my single level fusion, he said that he sends his patients home with Percocets and wants to start weaning them after 1.5 weeks...I'm on MS Contin 30mg/3 times a day and 2 10mg Oxycodone for breakthrough for the last year..okeedookee...we'll see how THAT goes...that's why I've been "biting the bullet" and stockpiling a ton of my Percocets as I knew I may run into this type of thinking
  • Doesn't your Doctor plan on weaning you off? I can't imagine going from all that to nothing.
    I was concerned about when the time comes to go off everything but my PM Doctor told me not to worry, that he will send me to another doctor that gives you something to come off narcotics smoothly. That's why I like that I have a PM Doctor because they know exactly what to do being they specialize in this.
    Hope all works out for you......
  • Kimmy, that is the neurosurgeon's plan to start cutting back on the Percocets that he prescribes for my operation pain a couple of weeks after my fusion. I will still be going to my Pain Management doctor during that time, so I don't see myself getting short-changed on my post-op pain relief. But, if something is going to get screwed up, it's always with me, it seems. That's why I just planned ahead on my end with "my own game plan", if need be.
  • I had spinal fusion with instrumentation from T2-L3 on Oct 6. Up till this past weekend I was on the 50 Fentanyl patches and have a supply of valium and dilaudid. I think the Fentanyl is the only thing that helps. He's cut me down to the 25 dose and it's only worked about a day before the problems start again. The dilaudid and valium do nothing much. I don't have the spasms he told me i'd have==I have burning. It feels like someone is splitting my back open again or it's on fire. The dilauded helps for about an hour and then the pain is back. Does anyone have an opinion on my progress? Am I just at that place where I have to start toughing it out or is the dr being too conservative in trying to wean me off the pain meds too soon for as huge a procedure as this was? I have 14 inch Harrington rods down my spine. It absolutely burns, but I'm very surprised i'm not having the twitches, spasms he said would be the worst of it. That is what the valium is for. The fentanyl was the only thing that worked to keep me without pain till it wore off. Thanks for any info.
  • After my first fusion in 2001, I continued on hydrocodeone until 18 months out. Not fun.
  • I didn't ask that many questions regarding pain management before hand, as my injury left bone and debris (at C7) just against the spinal cord...so I said, "where do I sign?" when it came to pre-op signatures...

    I'm just behind Cath (I am now almost 8 weeks post procedure) and during the procedure the doc noticed a slight laceration of the ulner nerve (going to my arms).

    I followed docs prescriptions and advice (as well as good advice from some friends here regarding taking it EASY after surgery). However, he put me on Vicodin and Valium.

    Vicodin, or the combo, has left me incredibly moody (every type of mood swing you can think of, but did a decent job with pain). I felt great the last week, and I took myself off 4 days ago, without my dr's advice and literally felt withdrawal symptoms, which I believe are largely attributable to Vicodin (I am not a fan...to say the least...), which included depression and extreme fatigue.

    My point is watch how you change meds and remember these alter your physiology, and psychology follows...

    Now, a question to the group: As I go back to work next week, I'm worried about sitting at my desk and computer for long periods of time (like some of you). I don't mind Tylenol or OTC meds, but what's the word on Valium at the end of the day? Is it addictive? Mood altering during the day when taken at night? I'll ask my doc, but wanted to get some feedback on what to ask him and whether Valium is addictive/moody/bad like Vicodin...



  • In response to valium, I myself cannot take them, they make me extremely depressed and yes they are addictive and mood altering.
    Since I first posted this, I've been back to my PM doctor and he wanted to put me on a long acting pain medicine such as oxycotin (I think that's the name)but I said I didn't want to. I figure I'm going to feel better as time goes on and I certainly don't want to go on something stronger because I am concerned for when I have to stop these meds.
    It's been a little over two weeks since my surgery and the pain is still strong. Not as bad as the first week, but worse than before my sugery. I didn't expect it to be this painful, but I'll just have to give it some time. I'm sure in time, it will get better. For now, I'm grateful for pain meds because it makes it barrable.
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