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How long is the pain supposed to last??

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Pain Management
I had an L5-S1 fusion via ALIF done on November 5th. I understand that it is going to take some time to heal, however, I am continuing to have a lot of pain. In the mornings, its the worst. But I am still dependent on Oxycontin, oxycodone, and valium to help relieve the pain. The pain has never gone away and I don't expect to be pain free for a while, but it seems as if these meds are not even touching me. I just dont know what to expect as far as the timeframe for the pain to be relieved. I dont want to become addicted to the meds, but after nearly two weeks, and no relief, it looks as if I am heading down that road. I am a single mom that needs to continue to work and addiction to medication in my profession is not acceptable. Can anyone give me some idead as to when the pain will go away or at least not require medications?



  • I haven't had surgery, so I can't address that. However, don't beat yourself up too much about needing meds for pain. That is what they are made for. And there is a difference between dependency and addiction and all too often our medical professionals mix them up. Many people are dependent on pain meds to manage pain (acute or chronic) enough to live a semi-normal life, but they are not addicted as most people think of addiction. Are diabetics addicted to insulin therapy or dependent?

    I discussed the difference with my doc and he basically said that if I am taking the lowest effective dose to manage my pain while being honest with him, myself and my immediate family, he is not worried about addiction. Physical dependence? Yes, but that is expected and can be managed. He said the minute I start hiding things, lying or taking more than is needed for the pain I am experiencing, I am on the WRONG road. It seemed like pretty common sense advice to me and really helped me feel less guilty about pain medication.

    Good luck to you. I am sure you will get additional responses from people who have had the same surgery as you and can more directly address your main question.

    Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and this post is just my opinion based on my limited experiences.
  • It's still very soon post op so hang in there. I had the same surgery done 7/1/08 and the first 2wks were the worst but I started to feel better late Sept and October. You should take this time to rest and avoid BLT (bending, lifting, twisting). Your body has been through a major surgery and needs time to heal. Have you gone back for your post op follow up yet? The surgeon should do xrays at that time to access that the hardware is where it should be.

    I started weaning off my pain meds about 3months post op and was almost completely off them. Unfortunately, I had a fall sometime late Oct or early Nov and haven't been the same since. I now have 2 broken screws and am worse off than before surgery. I beleive this is due to the fall and the fact that I didn't take the time to heal properly as I should have. I was pushing myself way too early because of an unsupportive family. I pray that you have help at home and lots of support.

    Keep in mind that everyone's body heals differently and each has different experiences. If you are concerned that you aren't making progress as you think you should or your pain starts to get worse instead of better, I suggest you see your surgeon right away.

    Best of luck to you on a speedy recovery and keep me posted.
  • This is a big operation and you could ask your doctor what targets to set and when, only you know the level of the pain you have and what is acceptable to you, keep a record of these events and use this as evidence of your progress and suitability of your medication regime.

    I was told 12-18 months to see the real benefit so you have a long road ahead, you cannot base what you do against others as we all enter surgery with differing status and symptoms, we sometimes look at other achievement and think that we too should be doing that well and not doing is hard. If you set your expectation on what other are doing and do not reach them you will be disappointed and you should not be, as long as you are pacing well and doing all that is asked to do, then this time along perceived as lengthy you would swap for all that preceding pain and lets hope this is the case.

    We all try to set off fast and for some that may work and others not, be positive and pace back into your expectations, set realistic goals and review what you did and when and set others along the way, we all at your stage wanted to make that massive leap and just get on with life and pain and recovery do not work as we would like or expect.

    Use that energy you have to get to those waypoints and acknowledge your success and achievements.

    This is not easy and if anyone tells you an alternative, they do not have the condition you do.

    Take care John.

  • hello,

    i am on my 3rd pump in 17 years, my medtronic book says approximatly 6 years on battery life.
    pump one lasted me 1993 to 1999
    pump two lasted 1999 to 2006
    pump three 2006 to present, its still pumping
    medication in pump for 15 years dilaudid

    tip: always listen when you are in a quiet room for a soft high pitched beep coming from the pump.
    if you do, just let your Dr know ASAP.

    good luck, pp

  • Dedalus is correct in her information.. Addiction and dependance are 2 different things. I would not worry about taking your pain meds. Your Doctor knows how to wean you off opioids when the time comes for you to stop taking them. Fortunatly I have never had a problem stopping opioids. Not everyone does. Lumbar fusions ARE very painful. I was taking 3 different pain meds when I had mine and was still in savage pain. It was several weeks before I could even sit up by myself.
    Give yourself time to heal, do not try to rush things.
    Best of luck to you. Please keep us updated.
    Cheers :H
    Patsy W
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