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How long can your body hold up on pain meds?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:30 AM in Pain Medications
I started my regular routine this morning by sorting out the Methadone, Neurontin and Baclofin that I would need for the day and putting it in a pill box that I carry with me all day long. As I was opening each medication bottle, I asked myself, "How long am I going to be able to take this medication before it starts to have an effect on my body?"

I will be 37 years old in July. I started taking narcotics for my back in May of 2002. I had my 3 disc fusion in Feb 2004. I never came completely off the pain meds after my surgery and have been back on a regular schedule of pain meds for the last 2 years. This means I have been on narcotics for almost 7 years. HOW LONG CAN MY BODY HANDLE TAKING THIS MEDICATION BEFORE I START HAVING PROBLEMS FROM THE MEDICATION?

I don't smoke, I don't drink alcohol because it doesn't mix well with Methadone, I don't each greasy or fatty foods other than the occasional fast food hamburger but I am seriously concerned that the longer I take the meds, the greater chance that I am going to be dealing with problems resulting of the medication.

My wife asked this same question to me yesterday but in a concerning way; "What are you going to do when it is not just your back that is causing you to see a doctor on a regularly basis?"

Has anyone had problems from taking pain medication for a long period of time, i.e. 10+ years? What are the problems? I have faced the fact that I am going to live the rest of my life with pain and although I am putting off my next fusion for now, I eventually will have to have it done and more than likely will have multiple fusions over the course of my life time.

Does anyone else worry about this? How do you cope with this question?

I just wanted to throw this out there and see who else has asked themselves the same questions.

Thanks for listening,



  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,841
    You have a very valid question, something many people have asked here before.
    I wish I could give you one straight answer that would cover everything, but unfortunately, I can not.
    There are so many medications, narcotic, non-narcotic, steroid, nerve pain, muscle relaxers, those for anxiety, to help with depression and list goes on and on. Because someone that deals with chronic pain generally has a long list of medications.
    Since I have been dealing with chronic pain for over 30 years, I have all different types of medications, some of them I've stayed on for years. Right now, I am in about my 4th year in using various narcotic pain medication.
    I have a super doctor (physiatrist) that manager my total condition. She is not worried about the narcotic pain medications. She knows that as long as a patient is in true pain, then narcotic pain medications many times are one of the answers. And experienced doctors can see the difference between a person who is in real pain using narcotics vs a person in little pain, but still wants those pills.
    Honestly, my doctor is more worried about other drugs, especially those that can affect the liver. I use Zanaflex and Cymbalta. Both very effective in what they are used for, but that can hurt your liver. To make sure, I go for blood work ever 45 dayes, especially for liver function tests.

    So basically what I am saying is that having a good communication path between you and your doctor will help in this area so much. I've often talk to my doctor because I was worried about taking narcotics for over 3 years straight.

    Talk it over with your doctor
    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
  • Ron - what is it that is bad in Zanaflex? My doctor never mentioned it. I take 1 1/2 at bedtime ( I think that's 6mg ). Thanks.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,841
    cause when I looked it up, this is the answer I found:
    Do not take more than three doses (36 mg) of tizanidine in a 24-hour period. Too much of this medication can damage your liver.
    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
  • I'm 47, i've been in pain since 1985 starting with 2 car whiplash accidents 28 days apart from each other, neither my fault. Fianlly had a partial cervical disk (C4/5) removed in 1990 then a lateral release on my left knee in 95 (i think). S1/L5 fused in 2000 I think, my memorys not that good...;>) and my second fusion last June.

    I've been on all sorts of meds almost continually over the years and still been relatively functional (except those 'beer' years...;>) until this year where my 'abilities' have dropped to almost nil.

    If you only take what you need for the pain and attempt to stay as active as you can without furthering your injury, I think you'll do ok.

    Every person is different. As for me, once the meds kicked in i just went about doing the things I normally did - things I shouldn't have which wound up making things worse!

    Just like the other day I was feeling good near the end of the day so I mowed my lawn and my son pulls into the drive in the car and yells at me "Your gonna die!"

    My response? "I'd better finish mowing then!"
    Yes i'm paying for it afterwards but the alternative is to give up doing anything and hire someone to wipe my arse as i sit and rot away...;>)

    I'll have plenty of time to do absolutely nothing once the pain, meds and my disintegrating spine finally have their way with me...;>)
  • The lawn mower comment cracked me up. Every time I mow the yard, my wife says "why do you mow the yard, it takes you all day and it takes you two days to recover." I respond to her, every time, "Because I can and it makes me feel good inside."

    I appreciate what you had to say.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,841
    that there are things that we want to do, because we feel so much better inside after doing them.... Even when it means we pay the price later.
    I love my garden and lawn and to me, I can escape by mowing my lawn, trimming some shrubs, planting new plants and more.
    I know it going into the day that it will hurt later, but I still do it. Now 3 years ago, when it seemed that my Thoracic discs were just going to leave me immobile, I fought tooth and nails to be out there. My wife would be telling me, do not do it, you are crazy.. But she was right, not about me being crazy (thats a different topic) but by doing things I should not be doing and then hurting myself, I just gave her more work to do. I never realized that in the beginning, but I have learned. Luckily nowadays I do have more strength so I can go out into the garden and work. I have to limit my time out there, if I do too much, not only will I pay and suffer later on, I become the patient again for my wife to have to take care of. So, because I did something I wanted to , I just put more work on her. That was never fair of me.
    Thats one of the ways I learned "Pacing myself"
    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
  • OMG, I didn't know that about zanaflex. They have me on 8mg 3x's a day because of painful muscle spasms. This dose is more effective than the regular 6mg. I thought the only meds I had to worry about was the NSIADS and tylenol content of percocets. Thanks for letting us know about this.
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