Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Coming off the meds.....

caitycccaityc Posts: 268
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Pain Medications
As some of you may remember, my pain management doc wants me to ween off my meds. He told me this back in late Oct. early Nov. I asked him if we could wait til January, as the holidays are so busy, and he agreed.

He wants me off my meds to see my "true" pain, as pain meds tend to mask some other symptoms. At first I was skeptical about his tactic (thinking maybe he thought I didn't need them, etc) until I met with my primary doc. She explained to me that this is common practice among PM's. And as a matter of fact, her father was going through the same thing with his PM when I had my appt. with her.

So, wish me luck! I am so nervous. I don't really mind coming off the meds, but I'm just so nervous about the pain I am going to have. The meds I take keep me "steady", so to speak, and don't take all the pain away. I can't imagine what it's going to be like when I'm in a lot of pain and can't take anything to help it. :(

I will only be off for 1 month, and then he will put me back on them. But that month I'm afraid is going to be terrible. I normally take 3 a day, and as of yesterday am taking 2 a day. Then next Monday I start taking 1 a day. I am weening off weekly.

I will pop in to let you know how I am doing. If any of you have done this before, I would really appreciate your experience.

Thank you!!!!



  • I also agree with Paul. Why does he need a "real" measure of your pain? You are not on a bunch of pain meds and Norco is pretty mild compared to the other Schedule II narcotics. It makes no sense to do this unless you are weaning off the Norco for good. I would think twice about doing this and maybe consider seeking a second opinion. Your pain IS real. Take care
  • doc explained it to me, is that, for example, my facet joints look terrible. My PM is considering doing a facet block injection. Before he does this though, he wants to see if part of my pain is from the facet joints themselves. With me on Norco, it may be masking pain that my facet joints might be causing. He gave me an exam, and I was on meds at the time, so maybe he feels I did fairly well on the exam because I was on my meds. So he wants to check my range of motion, etc, when I'm not on any meds. It's like he really doesn't want to do the facet block unless I really need it. Does that make sense? He also told me that if the pain gets intolerable, to take a pill. He doesn't want me tortured. BUT, he told me not to stop my flexeril and Mobic. But I would think that if he wanted my true pain, why not let me spasm and get inflamed, right?

    I don't know..... I'm going to do it as best I can and see what happens.

    Thank you both so much for your support! I appreciate it so much!

  • He did the same thing to me just to make sure that I didn't have opiod-induce Hyperalgesia. He weened me off my Methadone for about 4 weeks, then I was without my medications for about 3 weeks, and that was awful!
    I didn't have any problems with withdrawals or anything like that, but the pain was off the charts! As soon as I couldn't handle it anymore he re-introduced me to my medications. I was kind of PO when he did this since I did not agree with it at all, but he said that he does that every time that he gets a new patient... go figure!

    Anywho, I wish you luck and I hope that your Doctor accomplishes whatever it is that he wants to accomplish.

    Take care,
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    weaning a patient off of pain medications while they are still in pain.

    The purpose of these medications are to help manage your pain. Eliminating the medications, even for a short time and then re-instate them does not make any sense to me.

    My Pain management doctor is very conservative and she always is ok with my pain medications. She put it very simple terms: As long as you have pain, then you need medications. When you no longer have that pain, then you stop. And as she put it, she will know when that happens. That is because the doctor and I have a good trusting relationship.

    Weaning off of pain medications should only be done when you are in a situation where you want to come off those medications permanently
    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 did not agree with what my PM Doc was doing! I thought it was crazy and cruel, but I guess this is the way he does things and I did go along with it thinking that maybe he had a point to make.... NEVER AGAIN!!!

    BTW, I did leave that practice and went to a University Hospital pain managment clinic, and when I told my current PM Doc what the old one did, he went through the roof! Word to the wise!
  • don't want to do this. :o( I'm actually really scared. If I can't handle it, I am just going to tell him that I can't do it. I think he will understand. He is very good about prescribing meds, I can just tell he would rather not. He made the comment to me once that he has some disk problems, but refuses to take meds. He says they mask pain, and allow him to do things he shouldn't do. That did make sense. But then I asked him how he can work (especially in his field, on his feet all day) and he said he eats healthy and goes to the gym. Well, I wish fixing my issue was that simple. :)

    One of the reasons he's doing this, I think, for example, is the last time I was in his office he asked me to bend forward and backward. Well I had already at least on dose of my meds, if not 2 for the day. So I did as I was told, very slowly. I think he figures that I was able to do so because I was medicated, and he wants to see how far I can go without meds.

    He has already given me 2 epi's that didn't work, and is considering facet block injections. So maybe he doesn't want to put me through that, and waste my insurance companies money until he knows for sure they are causing the problem. When he did the x-ray guided epi's, he told me my facet joints were shot.

    I just don't know..... I am totally playing it by ear. I will keep you updated as I go along.

    Thank you Tipper! And thank you Ron for responding as well. It's funny, last night I even considered sending you a PM asking you to read my post and give me your opinion. You must have gotten my vibes. :)

    Thank you!!!!

  • Agree with the whole stop the meds to see how bad it really hurts either.

    I would like to mention, don't even think about stopping the flexeril and mobic while off the other stuff! A muscle spasm while on narcotics is bad enough.
    You don't want to go there when you're off narcotics!

    That's been my biggest issue since getting my SCS. Muscle spasms and knots of pain in my back. I can cover the pain in my shoulder/arm with my SCS, but it does nothing for the spasms and back pain.

    So, I take flexeril, Valium and Ambien most nights.

    Depending on how your body responds to lowering you dose, I'd be careful. I had to go slower when I withdrew from my narcotics after the SCS implant. I see no need to suffer withdrawal on top of pain! I went very slowly down on my dose, slower then your doctor is doing. So, if you have withdrawal symptoms, I'd suggest you ask him if it is ok to slow down on tapering off.
    I actually tapered down to half a 5/325 percocet and when I stopped that I noticed some sweating and such, so I took 1/4 tabs of percocet for another 4 days then stopped. Doing it that way, I felt no withdrawal symptoms at all!
    Everybody is different though!
    Always ask your doctor.

    Last thing, just because your doctor has disc problems and does not take pain meds, well, that does not mean diddly squat! It is how YOU feel your pain, not how he deals with his! My dad has the ability to ignore some major pain and just keep on going. He is a mechanic and 79 years old, he worked through burns on is arm, wrist to elbow, chainsaw cut to the leg, many, many deep nasty cuts. I swear I don't know how he does it/or did it. I did not get that ability!
  • just want to stop all meds... I'm kind of like "you want my real pain, here it is....". And I don't mean that like it sounds. I figure if he wants to see the "true" me so to speak, then why keep the spasms and inflammation down. It it's too much, then I will schedule an appointment with him. He did say though that my pain will be heightened a bit, due to the withdrawl of the meds.

    Tomorrow I'm down to 1 pill a day. Next Monday the 18th, when I'm completely off, I'm going to stop the flexeril and mobic as well.

    Thank you all so much for your support. I have been a member for 2 years now, and still am SOOOO grateful to have found you all.

    >:D< >:D<

  • Caity,

    How are things now that you are down to just one Norco a day?

  • It's OK.... It's been tough physically. My body definitely wants more than one. ~X( Before I take the one pill, I start having flu like symptoms. My legs really ache, and they are restless.

    Mentally I'm OK with not taking them, but it's tough to deal with the pain. :''(

    Thank you so much for asking!

    I just really wish my doc didn't have to do this. If it's just too much, I will have to tell him.

  • I am going thru the same thing now. But I asked to taper off my meds to see where my pain really was because of all the stuff I have read about the meds make the pain worse etc. I was on 60 mg of ms contin 3xday up to 6 10/325 percocet a day as well as 4 350mg of soma a day. I am into my third 5 day stretch she reduced me by 5 day on each new dose. I am down to 30mg 3xday and it has been terrible! The pain is so constant and tomrw I go to 15mg 3xday. My problem is I want to find a new pm dr. The one I was seeing was only giving meds and I am only 36 I do not want to be on meds forever!
    Good luck to you and let me know how long you last!
  • I have not officially taken a pill since Monday morning. My back hurts, my body hurts. At night when I go to sleep my legs are restless and I toss and turn for hours.

    I left a message for him today asking him again why we are doing this? I'm also going to ask him for something to help me sleep....

    I am so unhappy... :( My poor husband and kids have enough to go through with me, let alone what I'm feeling now. I don't want to do anything....

    Wish me luck guys. I'm really struggling....

  • This seems very extreme to me, but I am not a doctor.

    I can't imagine having to go through all of this pain you are describing and I can't help but wonder if this really is necessary? I don't feel you should have to suffer like this.

    Have you considered getting a second opinion?

    Please let us know what your doctor says when he returns your call.

    I am so sorry you have to suffer like this, Caity.


  • You have brought tears to my eyes (although not difficult these days :) ). I left a message for my doc to call me back...

    I'm afraid if I go to another PM and ask for drugs right away, I will be considered a "drug seeker".

    These withdrawl symptoms are terrible! I feel like absolute sh*t today. Today is my 9 year old sons birthday. I have to go get his cake, and cup cakes for his class, and I just don't want to go. :( I should be happy and excited for him. I feel like I am ruining his birthday. :( :''(

    Thank you again for your response. I really appreciate it.

    >:D< >:D<

  • Good luck trying to come off your pain meds....i hope you feel better soon
  • I'm feeling better. I spoke to (cried to) my pain management doc on Thursday. Luckily he warned me that the withdrawls were going to be bad, so he wasn't surprised when I called. He is such an understanding person. When he called, I was in the thick of things with withdrawl, including a head ache that felt like my head was going to explode!

    I normally take 30 mg's (3 10-325's daily) of Norco a day, so he gave me a script for 20 5-325, just to take the edge off, as well as a script for something that will help the anxiety, shakes, etc from withdrawl.

    Since Thursday, I have taken 4 Norcos. I took 2 the night he gave me the script because I had to get a hold of things (family had just got to town and we were going to dinner for my sons birthday). Since then, I have taken one pill at night before I go to bed. The anxiety med I also take at night before I go to bed. Then in 3 or 4 days I will take 1 every 8 eight hours. It's a med designed to lower blood pressure, so he wants me to take them at night, so I can get used to them before I take them during the day.

    Thank you all so much for your kind words and encouragement! I really appreciate it!

  • caityc said:
    With me on Norco, it may be masking pain that my facet joints might be causing. He gave me an exam, and I was on meds at the time, so maybe he feels I did fairly well on the exam because I was on my meds. So he wants to check my range of motion, etc, when I'm not on any meds. It's like he really doesn't want to do the facet block unless I really need it. Does that make sense?
    That would make complete sense to me, IF you were on long acting meds.

    Norco is pretty ineffective within 4-6 hours of taking it, so your doctor should be able to perform an exam that provides sufficient information just by asking you not to take any medication for 8 hours prior to your appointment.

  • but he told me Norco stays in your system for a couple of weeks, so he is evaluating me at 3 to 4 weeks.... He wants me totally unmedicated....

    Thank you for your support BW. I really appreciat it. :)

  • How is the detox coming?

  • It's going OK.... I have a prescription to help with the with withdrawls, and it's helping. Only problem is they make me really sleepy... I won't complain though because I don't have the shakes, agitation, etc.... My back hurts a lot more, but I don't really have to do anything, as I have a very supportive family. I get a lot of rest, don't bend, twist or turn, and don't sit or stand for any long periods of time. I'm in a recliner most of the day.

    I see my doc in 3 weeks, then I get put back on the Norco. He said often times Norco hides underlying pain, so he just wants to make sure we are not missing anything....

    Thank you so much for asking... It was REALLY tough at first. :(

  • Hi Caity,

    Just wondering how you are feeling. I've been following your story.

    Are you glad you ended up getting off of most your meds?

  • I was hit last night and today with really BAD flu like symptoms.... My whole body hurts and aches. My back and my legs hurt as well, not having the Norco to take. I am slightly agitated, but don't have the "internal" shakes any more.

    I will be honest, I am not glad to be off my meds. If I didn't need them, and wasn't in pain, I would be feeling stellar. But those meds allow me to have probably a 50% quality of life, as opposed to 0%, which I have now.

    I am pre-surgery, so I still have a lot of issues that require me to take meds so my pain level is 3-5, instead of 8-10 without them.

    Please just send some positive thoughts my way so I can get through this. It's been a really tough ride so far. :(

    Thank you so much for asking! :(

  • I am sending warm wishes your way. How awful! I feel bad for you, back pain makes you feel miserable. When is your surgery? Before my PLIF the one Surgeon wanted me to go off all pain meds for a month prior to him operating on me. He was going to do a 3 level. I went to another and he didnt make me go off them and did a 2 level. I still have pain, but he said he would rather deal with the other disc that wasnt as bad later than do a 3 level. So I am in pain, and waiting to see if my 2 PLIF gets better. If not, probably go through whole thing again. I almost wish I would have done the 3 level. Oh well, live and learn. Maybe it wouldnt have fused at 3 levels like my ortho was worried about. So, hopefully you will have yours soon, and feel better, Till then, heres a great big, but soft hug. Be thinking about you and hoping you do better! Love, Robin
  • about my PM's attitude towards narcotics. I saw him March 10th, when he informed me he would not be putting me back on Norco, because they "mask" my pain, and allow me to do things that could further injure my back. He put me on Tramadol, which he says helps with pain, but doesn't "mask" it.
    He is doing a transforaminal epidural this Monday the 22nd, because based on my new MRI, he says scar tissue is not only now in my thecal sac, but also hitting my nerve roots on the right.
    I have a question though.... Won't an epidural "mask" my pain as well, and cause me to do things I shouldn't? Now let me say that I have learned my lesson, and NEVER do things I shouldn't. I'm going to ask him that on Monday.
    He had made a comment to me several months ago that led me to believe he wasn't a fan of Norco. I told my primary doctor about it, and she disagreed saying that she feels he's the type of doc that prescribes Norco when warranted, and wouldn't hold back. Hmmmm....
    Anyway, wish me luck on Monday, as he told me this injection is a lot more painful. :(


  • How is the tramadol helping? I found it super helpful, as good as vicodin 5/500 for some things. I do know it's a very "hit or miss" med, though- not helpful for some people.

    I will say that I'm betting his opinions would not be shared by every doctor in the field. What does your orthopedic surgeon say about what you "should" be doing? I have one completely collapsed vertebrae with no disk at all and stuff sticking out all over, and my ortho says I can do anything I can tolerate. I do have a 45 lb lifting limitation.

    I will say that it annoys me to all get out when a doctor says "well, I have back problems and I don't..." You can have two people with the same problem and one has no pain and the other is completely disabled. Doctors should know that.
  • p.s. logically, it kind of makes sense to back off the meds and start back conservatively to find out what the minimum effective medication level is. I mean, if you don't actually have to live with the pain in the process it makes a lot of sense.

    One nice thing about Tramadol is that it has less habit forming risk, and is not a controlled substance, so you can just get a regular script with refills. And you won't have to worry about the withdrawals anymore. I am on 2 meds now that have terrible discontinuation effects and I really hate having that hanging over my head :(
  • Please do not be offended by my following comments. It sounds like you're fighting your Doctors treatment plan. Give it a chance to see if it helps. As for the epidural, I've had the one you are talking about. It's not going to mask the pain. What it will do is get more medicine to the areas that need it and hopefully reduce some of your inflammation. Less inflammation will allow you to stretch the nerves with less pain which long term will free up the nerves.

    Give it time.

  • Dave.... No offense taken!!!I'm just frustrated. :( I can't have surgery, the previous epi's failed, and the one med that actually seemed to help he took me off of. :(

    HappyHBmom.... The Tramadol is OK, it's just not as effective. It takes a little longer to kick in, and doesn't last as long. But at least I have a pain killer. :) I don't have a surgeon at this time. I just moved to AZ a year ago, went to a wonderful surgeon my primary physician recommended, and he told me at this point I was inoperable. So my doc sent me to my pain management doc, who also told me I'm inoperable. He said I am too young, and that I would wear out the fusion and be back in this same situation 5 -7 years from now. I also don't have severe spondy or vertabrae slip, so it basically has to get worse before it gets better. :(

    I had my 4th epi today with WONDERFUL sedation. The sedation worked great! Now I just wait to see how truly effective the epi was...... Wish me luck!!!

    Thanks again everyone!!!

  • My PM doc did the same thing to me Dave. I was told to quit taking morphine sulfate tablets (abruptly) and go through a series of injections. I was also given bp meds that lasted for a week. Caity, I know it really stinks to go through all of that and I feel exactly what it is your going through. Did that make sense...lol I am now just taking around 1800mg's a day of Neurotin (nerve med) and mentally feel a lot better but lower back and legs still have some issues. I personally don't understand PM doc's, but that's ALL up in the air, if you know what I mean. I may not be in as much pain as I have DDD at L4,L5,S1 area. I just went through 2 nerve blocks and 2 rhizo's, which have not worked. This was all directed by PM doc to see what is really the issue. I can't (as you know) tell you what to do but I would ask for a copy of records and possibly seek a new PM doc. What works for one doesn't work for another. I know that doesn't really help the issue at hand but if that Tramadol doesn't help, I would be looking in another direction. :O
  • I know you've been going through so much pain for such a long time and I feel that there is much more that should be done to help you out. I don't agree with the doctor saying that you are too young...I was 35 when I had my fusion, but I understand that our circumstances are different. If the Tramadol and injections wind up helping you, by all means I will jump up and do a happy dance for you. <:P I really hope that you find some relief really soon with this doctor's treatments. Take care >:D<
Sign In or Register to comment.