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After Surgery, how long are you on pain meds?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,662
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:32 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I think I am "smoking crack", when I think about life after my ACDF surgery. I really thought that I would be on pain meds for about 2 weeks, I have a high pain tolarence (had c-section and took nothing when i came home from hosp). But I am reading that alot of people are still on their pain meds even after 2 months.

what is the norm? I know that everyone is different, but clearly i did not know that i will be taking pain meds for up to 2 months after surgery.

i was really under the impression i will be on the beach with my children after 2 weeks (for about 4 hours-ONLY).




  • I get sick on pain meds but doc told me to take them after I called asking if I could take stronger tylenol. I am taking zantac with perocet for about three days. I don't need it as much today and it's day 5. I plan stopping soon. It depends on how you feel. I just get scared because of the people who get addicted and try to take them only when nessary.
  • Cin -

    that is just like me :) I am so scared to get addicted to the pain meds. I was worried that i could not take naproxen 10 days prior to the surgery and the dr was going to give me perc's i told him "no thanks - anything anymore mild just to take the edge off?" He gave me tylenol with codine, i have yet to try it to see how it will effect me though.

    it just seems like everyone is on their pain pills for a very long time, which is not what I want.
  • Hi there, I am just over 3 mos. post-op from ACDF surgery(c5-7) and I felt like I really needed them for about a couple of weeks or so, certainly wasn't as long as I had thought. I would tell you that I was in a miami j hard collar immediately post-op and wore it 24/7 for 12 weeks. In chatting with others, it does seem that being in a collar does help with the pain, so, you may want to take that in consideration for how you will feel if your surgeon plans on you being in a collar post-op. I you do not end up in a collar, I'd be surprised if your surgeon lets you do much of anything for a few weeks after and/or you'd really feel like it. Best advice, ask your surgeon now about plans for your post-op, better to have some idea. Feel free to ask questions or PM, best wishes, Olivia
  • As you most likely know, everyone's different when it comes to pain. I know that many surgeons will let you know they think you should be weaning, and when they've had enough of prescribing for you, they ship you off for someone else to deal with. (mine never shipped me off, but I asked for a referral because I felt there was more investigating that needed to be done... too bad the PM didn't agree)

    If I were you, I would just take it one day at a time. You definately don't want to "come off" too soon, as it may be much harder to admit to yourself that you need something stronger than tylenol and to allow yourself to get the pain relief you need.

    Funny thing, I also thought I had a high pain tolerance until my surgery, and found out I'm a big baby.

    Take care of yourself, and don't rush to be off meds altogether, they help so you can do more, and have some semblance of a life while you recover.

  • Well, I never was able to get off of them with both back surgeries I had to due complications and persistent severe pain. I have been taking pain meds for over 3 years straight and I began with the minimal of course (Vicodin). There has not been one moment where I had no pain, it's constant and unrelenting and I never felt any relief post surgically. My last fusion left me feeling worse unfortunately and I need to take strong medications to make things bearable. I'm having surgery again to have a morphine pump implanted and I hope that it will help me function much better.

    I'm sure you'll be on the beach relaxing with your kids pretty soon, but just take things one day at a time B) Take care SwimMom :H
  • thanks everyone :)

    I forgot to add that I will be in a soft collar at the very least, depending on what the dr finds when he goes in there. I just fear the feeling of being druged when I am with my children at home alone. My dh is staying home on wed (day of surgery), thurs (when I come home), fri, sat, and sun -- and then it is just me and the kids. I am sure he would stay home longer if needed, but like many of you - i hate asking for help or even implying that i need someone. it just seems like more work for me in the long run having someone else helping.

    i did ask my dr several times about the beach and each time he said i would have a collar on, but i could do it -- he even joked about tan lines! LOL trust me, i was not even thinking nor do i care about that :)

  • I wouldnt worry about becoming addicted to the pain meds. My surgeon says if you take them when your in pain you wont be addicted. First week of my surgery I was taking 2 norco 10mg every 4 to 6 hours. The 2nd week I was taking 1 every 4 to 6 hours. Now i am taking 2 a day and I am 4 weeks post op. Are you only having 1 level fused? With a fusion surgery they have to move the nerve out of the way to do the surgery and the nerves do not like being touched. My arm pain was the problem. I was in a hard collar and couldn't drive for 3 months. Your fusion takes 3 months to heal from my experience. I wasn't allowed to be in a car period because of the chance of being hit by another car and take a chance of redoing the operation. But like everyone says everybody is different and each doctor has their own restrictions.
    2005-ACDF with Corpectomy at C3-C-5.
    2006-L4-L5 diskectomy.
    2009-Cervical laminectomy at C3.
    Steroid injections series x 4.
  • at this point and time - it is only a 1 level fusion. However, I am am empty space in C6 and I am getting fused for C4/C5 which is also out of alignment too. My dr did mention doing more than just a single fusion, but C6 is clearly weaker due to the emptyness from a cyst. I have just come to the conclusion that i truly will not know until the surgery is done and over, since there is no guarentee what he will find and/or have to deal with once he is in there.
  • Hi Swimmom,
    I had a c5-6 bone graft and fusion three weeks ago and took Vicodin during the day every 6 hours or so for the first 2 days. It made me pretty sleepy and then I realized I didn't really need it- the anticipated pain wasn't there, just discomfort (and I don't think my tolerance for pain is all that high). For the next 2-3 days I took one around 2ish in the afternoon and before going to bed (wanted to make sure I slept in the hard collar I was in for the first 9 days). Then I only took one at night but once the hard collar came off, I didn't take any for sleeping. In the last two weeks, I've been taking celebrex for some lingering inflammation.
    I'm really surprised how relatively painless this whole process has been for me. I know I'm lucky, particularly when I read the stories of others on the list. I hope yours goes as well as mine!
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