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OMG! Constipation from Opiates

J.J.GreyJJ.J.Grey Posts: 2,961
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:37 AM in Pain Medications
I think that most of us that take opiates are very familiar with the constipation issues that they cause. I have had horrible bouts with it and try my best to remember to take Miralax at least a few times a week. Well, I went out of town last week and guess that I must have forgot to take my Miralax. I had the most horrible experience today and am wondering if anyone else has ever experienced the same. I will try and be as delicate as I can in describing the situation. While trying to pass extremely hard stools today I was in such agonizing pain and I actually went completely numb from my waist down. The painful numbness in my legs and feet actually continued for about 1/2 hour or 45 minutes after the experience was over. It really scared me to death! I think that I have a really good idea of how Elvis died! I guarantee that I will never go more than a few days without Miralax again but I am wondering if any of you have experienced this painful and numb experience all the way down to your feet during a bowel movement? Should I be concerned? I hope that I was not too graphic but really had no other way to explain.


  • JJ, I have not experienced exactly what you've posted, but of course, most of us have had severe bouts of constipation.

    The best relief I've found is Peri-Colace. It's very gentle and a stool softener and laxative mix. It's pretty expensive, but it's the most gentle "motivator" I've ever used.

    Sorry I can't help you with the nerve reaction issues, though.

  • This is a subject that should get a little more comment. Yes-it can be unpleasant, but this is our life!

    I was one who had daily, multiple diarhea episodes each day. It was the way that my body was screaming for attention and trying to tell me to go get checked.

    The meds - have not given me constipation, but actually have turned things to a regular pattern. I know that I am like, everyone, we have times that we do have - stops in that regular trip, to the washroom, but I have only had one ocasion of being "bound up". Bad eating and being on the road for a week.

    The pharmacist - suggested Senna - it worked well, and I have not used it since.

    Cheers - C45
  • I have tried senna and colace. I am very sensitive to sodium so I can not take either. The Miralax works gently and effectively but I must remember to use it at least 2-3 times a week. The constipation caused by opiates is a little different than the regular run of the mill. Bulking up with fiber can actually make things worse. Thanks for your comments on such an unpleasant subject.
  • You are quite right. No one understands what it is like, unlesss you live thru it.

    I also use dulcolax, on a rare ocassion as well. It seems to be gentle to my system. More so than the Senna.

    The only time that I have severe issues, is after an acute episode with my spine. I find that my back reeks havoc on my system and it takes weeks for it to settle down again.


  • That is exactly how I am. The more pain and especially the episodes of spasms that I have, the worse my digestive system acts up. If I weren't so paranoid about staying out of docs offices (swine flu) I would go see my GP but I think that I will just keep up with my Miralax for awhile.
  • Narcotics... the inspiration behind the extra padded toilet seat.
  • I had the exact same problem you described after my surgery last year. I also had to assist and break up some of the stool. Not something I want to repeat.
    From what I found on the internet is that we are impacted and need to go to hospital.
    I don't know why we got numb except that maybe the pressure of pushing is also pushing on a nerve. I feel pain just from the pressure of gas lately. Everything is extremely sensitive around my incision site.
    I've started to use flax the last four days and it has really helped. I've heard that our body can become addicted to meds that regulate our bowel movements, which is why I tried the flax seed.
    Hope this doesn't happen to you again.
  • I also suffer from constipation. I had problems before the chronic backpain and before I got on more potent pain meds so it is worse now. I take 3-4 stool softeners a day and 1-2 times a week I have to take the generic women's laxative. I do have times when my legs go numb but I think that my legs are going to sleep from sitting on the toilet for so long. I also have a hard time pushing cuz it hurts my back. I'm so afraid of doing something harmful to my body by straining too hard. This week has been rough for me. I'm also dealing with increased pain as well as constipation. I was so bound up that I was even sick to my stomach. I also think I have some kind of cold or bug too which isn't helping. I started on the alli diet and that helped keep me regular for a couple of months cuz it makes you go more frequently to get the fat out of your body before becoming absorbed. I think my system got used to it though cuz that doesn't happen anymore so I stopped taking it.

    Good luck and if becomes bothersome you should get it checked out as there could be something pushing on the nerves while having a bowel movement.
  • I am having the same problem with Opiates, constipation. I go days without having a bowel movemnt. Then finally I have a difficult hard one. I've made it easier by using Colace.

    I did finally buy some Ex-Lax and tried that last night. I'll see how that works. Its not unusual for me to go a week without having a bowel movement.

    My daughter has MS and takes Opiates. She says she has nerve damage in the nerves that control that part of her body. She says she will go nearly two weeks without going.

    It sure isn't fun. However, I do take my morphine and oxycodone strictly in the doses my doctor prescribes, no more, no less. The constipation side effect is no fun at all. But, I can live with it.
  • j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,732
    Things. I eat Activia 1 a day, drink way more water than I want to, and besides a lot of fresh vegies I have 3 servings of fruit a day. I find I have to mix up the kinds of fruit or my system gets to used to them and they loose their effectivness. I am taking so many different drugs that I just don't want to add more. If all of that fails even for a day, I use Docusate right away!
    Good luck, Jim
    Click my name to see my Medical history
    You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
    Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!
  • I have found that a compination of prescription strength Miralax and grapes. I take miralax for 3 days and 2 days without and I eat alot of grapes. About 6 cups a day. They are a great snack also.

    Good Luck
  • can the pm Dr prescibe a stool softener or laxative? I use a generic brand but it is still about $25.00 a bottle. ( I use alot). If I could get a prescription it would be free.
  • Magnesium Citrate. You can find it for about $7/bottle of 100 tabs. Take it 1-2 times a day with meals. It works much better than Colace and Phillips. It acts as a regulator and somewhat stool softener.

    If I use that daily then I am more regular. If not I end up once a week. Not a good pattern. And I take no opiates. I shudder to think what would happen if I was on opiates.
  • Grey Eagle, Please try and never go more than 3 days w/out a bowel movement. This is very dangerous. You can get an impaction within your intestines and it can be deadly. I have had 2 docs tell me that Miralax is gentle enough for children and is safe. I still worry about being dependent on it though. I started keeping track on a calendar when I use the miralax and I do NOT go more than 3 days without it. I don't know if most of you know this but Elvis Pressley died from constipation from opiates. It can really be a serious problem

    dmoonchild, you can get a prescription stool softner and it may really be safer that way since your doc will be able to monitor your use and make sure that you use something safe. I can't use dulcolax or colace because it is high in sodium and I have a high sensitivity to sodium. Miralax is extremely expensive.

    Ladybug, I wonder if Calm contains an herbal remedy? I am nervous to mix herbs with the meds that I take. I would love to find something natural that would work though.

    Jim, I have tried the high fiber thing and it has not seemed to help, The Activia did and I had forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder I will pick some up.

    Glennbo, Did your doc say that 3 on and 2 off with the Miralax was safe? Mine did tell me that it is as long as I don't take it every day but I like to hear that other docs also think so.

    Ming, That is what my husband said about the numbness when I told him about it. But it was different. I not only lost all feeling from my waist down but it lasted for about 30-45 minutes afterward.

    Thanks again for all of the input. Like I said before this is not a pleasant subject but I was VERY scared with this last episode so it is great that we can talk about it here.
  • Nobody mentioned it so.. Miralax has been the saving grace for many of us, but alas is not free. However, it was Rx only before, so simply have your dr rx you miralax x1 bottle as needed, substitute generic if needed. The pharmacy will give you generic PEG3350, but it's exactly the same. Typically it is a 255 gram bottle with a 17 gram measuring cup, same as miralax, big bottle.

    Hope this helps someone save a couple $ like it did for me.

  • Miralax is what I use and I will get a script for it since my insuramce will cover some of the cost. That stuff works gently and well but is very expensive. Thanks again for the info.
  • I was really really constipated. Senna did not touch it!

    I tried a daily mixture of lactulose (stool softener) and prune juice. That worked well. I also ate dried prunes and fruit regularly.

    If things got bad, I use a Microlax enema. It is easy to put up and then you lie on your side for as long as you can (up to 20 minutes) and then go and have a bowel movement.

    It is really difficult to strike the right balance but by keeping your diet good and not letting yourself go too long without a bowel movement, then I think you can keep everything going along.

    I must say one definition of happiness is a good bowel movement, imho!
  • There is a generic brand of miralax and you should be able to get a script from the doctor. When it first came out over the counter I was taking it but from and Rx and was still able to get it covered under my insurance. I can get expensive along with all the other meds we have to take.
  • Is this just a plain old mineral that can be found by the vitamins?
  • Yes I too have gone numb from the waist down and then had to get up with my cane and shake my legs around a little here and there to get my "land legs" back. Mine do return quickly - Thankfully.

    I am not taking anything for this issue as mine comes & goes ---- sigh SO if I take some help then I regret it as then it ends up the other way around and if I don't take some help I regret it.

    I only go about 2 maybe 3 times a week - I have heard uping the water intake will help with this issue. Something I have not tried but need to.

    The only thing I have found that works and does not turn around on me to bite me in the other direction is coffee. If it's been too long I drink some coffee and progress is made without feeling like I need a bullet to clamp down on ;)

    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Have you tried talking to your doc about this? Maybe he could suggest something mild that will keep you regular. As I said earlier I have had great results with Miralax. It is extremely gentle and I have not had it turn around on me yet.
  • The pain med forum thread called something like Miracle for Constipation has some good ideas on it too.

    Since you are not supposed to double post on Spine Health, I won't, but I will say that I describe how senna tea enjoyed nightly works for me. Another poster wrote that magnesium works for her. Both give more details.

    Too bad the opiate meds can't have a little natural laxative mixed in. But wait, then they could not make money selling us other stuff to unplug ourselves.

    Seems like they get us coming or going (pun). :-)
  • I really needed a good laugh. Also thanks for the tip.
  • Quiltinously - =)) Love It! Thanks for the laugh !
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Glad to help a spiney or two chuckle.

    Like I told Laur, I hope everything comes out alright.

    Crack myself up! Ha, ha! I could keep on going, but...

  • After my surgery I ate a fresh mango every day for a week and didn't suffer from constipation - hooray!
  • Ms Humpty, you mentioned that you heard increasing your water intake can help. I've also heard the same thing. In addition to helping with the bathroom issue there are so many more benefits of drinking lots of water everyday.

    I also find that red seedless grapes or a big glass of apple juice help me out sometimes. However, for the most part, I am dependent on stool softeners and laxatives.
  • I have heard about grapes helping and I have started eating them every day. I also looked at magnesium at the pharmacy but it warned against mixing it with other meds so I was afraid to try it.
  • How much oxycodone per day does it take to get this type of side effect? I've never had it but max I've been on is the 10 mg tabs 3-4 times a day, normally more like 7.5mg 1-3 times a day.
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