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Which of my meds is causing my major brain fog?

QuiltinouslyQQuiltinously Posts: 152
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Pain Medications
I hope to figure out which of my medications is causing me to wake up very tired and with major brain fog. The fog clears after an hour or more for much of the day and then it appears again and worsens after dinner (before I've even taken my bedtime meds). As I sit here after midnight, I hope that this post makes some sense.

If you have any personal experience with this or other insights, I'd sure appreciate it. I take Oxycotin 20 mg 4 per day and Oxycodone 5mg 4 per day. At bedtime, I take Neurontin (also called Gabepentin) 300mg 2 per night, and Flexiril 10mg 1 per night.

Another clue that my meds have changed me over the last two years since I've been on these medications is - reading. I used to read 1-2 books per week in the evenings and now I don't read books because I fall asleep quickly. All I read at night now is a few websites and those I often will fall asleep while reading too.

Just cutting out one med and then another isn't practical or easy to do, but with some clue as to which one might be causing it, I'll speak with my doctor about cutting that one out. He is nearing retirement age and I hesitate to ask him what I am asking all of you because I am concerned he'll just want to start making wholesale changes and that makes me nervous. I am in pain daily or obviously I would not be on these meds.

Thanks in advance. I really appreciate it!


  • I don't know if it's what is causing your brain fog, but I had to stop taking gabapentin due to the side effects ('abnormal thinking', memory problems, tired but unable to get to sleep, clumsiness, visual problems, etc.). Frankly, I'd rather put up with the extra pain than take something that messes with my mind so much. I know that it works very well for some, but this is one drug I'd rather not have in my system.

    Of course, it may not be having any of these effects on you. I'm not on any of the other meds you mention, so I don't know whether they'd be the culprits. I've never had the sort of problem you describe with opioids or muscle relaxants, though. I hope you are able to find which of the drugs is causing the brain fog. Good luck!
  • Dee,
    Can you remember if you had the symptoms before starting each medication and with that accumulative effect we would all expect that fog aspect to descend with varying degrees of clarity?

    I am an avid reader and one on my strategies in assisting me to use distraction and not focus on that continual pain. Most pain patients do not sleep well and understand that notion of feeling tired although not falling into sleep. Do you read at the same time although I try to do this when relaxed after most days the fatigue itself might be sufficient for me to nod off and this is usually started by any increase in the current pain and need to lay down.

    The suggestion is that we sleep when required and I sometimes with good planning sleep in the day to ease the increase of the onset of more pain and enabled to catch up. Perhaps the trick it not to sleep too long in the day as it may alerter our sleep patterns through the night.

    Layer upon layer of side effects are never easy to deal and live through and acting normally. We are all individuals and as you say determining which medication once the diversity is increased always an ongoing problem of fog sleep memory or attentiveness. Any change is emotionally difficult to adapt and we are all looking for that illusive continuity of relief or nearing that objective.

    As you also mention, time has taught me only to change one thing at a time so that if that change is detrimental it can be reversed in the knowledge that this may have been the cause, wholesale change of any aspect is never beneficial.

    I would ask your doctor this is a partnership the falling asleep may not be related to your medication and this is an opportunity to give yourself some answers that for many we wished we had asked at the time, lack of sleep is never easy and in combination with pain a sizable challenge.

    Good luck, John
  • Thanks for the replies. I am only on a low dose of Neurontin because it messed up my vision when I went up higher. I do not think that my sleepiness problems are anything but drug related. The only thing that has changed in my life since this easy falling asleep started is taking regular pain meds.

    Today it dawned on me that this has been going on for longer than I've been on the Neurontin or Flexiril, so it must be the Oxycotin and/or Oxycodone. I will speak with my GP when I see him in a few weeks. But getting off these helpful meds and switching to another that might have worse side effects or not stop the pain as well, is very scary.

    It is hard to know what other meds I can take. I rarely forget to take my meds on time, but when I do, my pain levels remind me that I missed taking them.

    What is worse... falling asleep too easily before bedtime due to Oxy or having fair to good pain relief? If I am honest with myself, I think I need to look at other options.
  • I'd put my money on the anti-siezure meds. The ones you are taking as nerve pain killers. I don't take any narcotic pain killers. But I did take Lyrica. Complete brain fog. I hear about the same with any of its companions. Some people do better with one or the other so you might be able to switch.
  • The nerve meds will do this to you. I was on Topomax and I now call it dopomax. It was awful. I could not even hold the simple thoughts in my head. Good luck.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,833
    the Flexeril. I say that only because I've taken those other medications, higher dosage with the Neurontin, but any time I have taken Flexeril, I seem to wake up feeling like I have a hang over. Without Flexeril, the same medications, I do not have that problem.
    But everyone is different. There are many members here that do not have that reaction with Flexeril, but do so with Soma.
    With Soma, I have no negative reactions.

    But still you should discuss this with your doctor and/or
    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
  • Really? Thanks, DiLauro. I have considered the Flexiril to be a weak med since it is not "controlled" with a hand carry script. But sure, it could be the culprit.

    I think I will follow your suggestion and seek professional advice.

    Do you or anyone else know if it is hard to taper off of 10mg of Flexiril?

  • I agree with Ron that Flexeril can cause that hang over feeling without any other benefit coming from the medication itself. I used to use it like candy hoping it would help and it did nothing but react with other anti-seizure meds I was taking. Since it wasn't effective for me as a muscle relaxer, I stopped it cold turkey after several months of daily use and had no issues from it withdrawl wise.

  • Hi C,

    Thank you for adding your two cents.

    I decided to cut the tablets in half before seeing your post, just to be safe and so far, no reaction to cutting back. But hearing you were able to go cold turkey makes me think that it is worth trying as I now hate the stuff. I mostly used it as a sleeping pill, doctor's idea, and it did do a good job at that. He also felt that it had minor anti-depression properties, but I did not end up experiencing this. However, I do not have depression issues beyond the "I'm sick of being in pain" blues now and then.

    BTW, I do feel better in the mornings fog wise.
    Thanks everyone for the input!
  • Flexiril is messing up my sleep time at night. It doesn't effect my napping but it seems to keep me up at night. They switched me to Flexiril after surgery I was on SoMA from the my Internist\PM but the Neurosurgeon doesn't like to use Soma??
    C3-4-5 fusion 2005
    C-5-T-1 disk bulged
    L-4-5 bulge to the right, with Microdiscectomy, failed
    L5- Bi-Lateral bulge
    Pain in right foot -loss of feeling
    Left butt, hip and front thigh pain with bad shooting pain into inside ankle sometimes
  • I can almost guarantee it is the Neirontin. The other side effect related is tooth deteriation.

    While on Neurontin it caused me among other things to almost completely lose my short term memory. Many many others at that time (4-7 years ago)experienced the same effects. It did a great job of interupting the nerve pain transmission but the memory loss was horrible.

    I was fortunate that my last surgery (of 6) was successful enough to eliminate it and now I am on straight long acting morphine with Norco for breakthrough.

    Good luck
  • I am 23 and just had my 3rd back surgery. The last was two weeks ago L4,L5,S1 discectomy and laminectomy. The pain is ok now but I have lived with the pain since I was 15 so I guess I have forgotten what life without pain really is. I had my first when I was 16 due to a football injury and my second 5 months later after getting rear ended in a car accident. I have gotten to the point to where I can take Norco 10/325 and soma all day long and not even notice I have taken anything. Although I'm not taking either at this time. They have put me on Oxycodone and valium. I don't know how long I should stay on them I have been trying to cut back to only taking my meds twice a day. I hate the thought of being dependent on some drug to live a happy life. I haven't asked my doctors for a refill since the surgery. I am about to run out. I know they don't want me taking them for very long and I don't want to be on them! I just feel like its an addiction but one I have because of the pain. I have a girlfriend soon to be fiance in a couple weeks/hopefully... Shhhhh. Shes been there and helped me though all this. I want to have a long and happy life without the pain and the meds. Is it possible? What should my expectations be? Should I be scared of taking my meds much longer? When I was 16 I really didn't think much about how much my life would be effected by all this but know its a very scary thing. Any advice or thoughts would really help. Thank you!
  • Hi Quentin, Welcome to Spine Health!

    Take the time to read all the forums on this website that you can. I've been a member since my second surgery and the folks on here are super nice and helpful.

    Do not feel like an addict taking your pain medication, because you're not! You are "dependent" on the medication because you use it for your chronic pain. It is okay to be on it! Also, if you and your doctor decide it is time to quit being the meds, you need to slowly taper off or you will be hit with some nasty withdrawls!

    I am the one who asked the original question about brain fog. Sometimes meds just need to be changed around. I learned that the Flexiril was part of the problem and am glad that I've been off it for over a week. It did help me sleep, but it was not worth it. Now I'll ask my doctor about tapering off the Neurontin to reduce the rest of the brain fog.

    Congrats on your soon to be engagement! :-) !! Keep us posted on your back pain.
  • Flexeril - When I was on it -I coould have conversations and 30 seconds later, have no memory of it. It was very bad for me! It was the only med that I was on at the time, so it was easy to sort out.

    Gaba - I have just started on it this week and am not sure what to think of it. It does not control the Neuo pain like the Lyrica did.

    The Narcotics can always cause tiredness, depending on the dosage.

    Take care -C45
  • It was the gabapentin for me...my doc wanted me to up my dosage to 600 mg three times a day. I made it four days after taking the two pills at bedtime, and it scared me when I had trouble formulating basic sentences while talking to my mom. She has back problems and complications from her blood sugar plummeting from diabetes, so she knew that it was the meds talking, or not talking (!), but I had to wean it back down to just the three capsules a day. The pain control isn't great with it, so I will be talking to my PM doc on the 17th.

    Flexeril and Skelaxin did absolutely *nothing* for me...may as well have been taking tic-tacs...

    Good luck to you!!
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