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Short Acting vs. Extended Release

Lala329LLala329 Posts: 283
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:44 AM in Pain Medications
Hi spineys,

I'm a bit new to the medication side of things- I just do not like the way I feel on meds so they have never played a huge role in my pain management. But, seeing as I've slowly and surely worked my way through the non-med PM options I was hoping to get some basic info from you guys regarding the benefits/side effects of extended release meds versus short acting.

I've always been managed on short acting opioids. To me, the benefit is that I don't *have* to take it (ie, no physiological tolerance issues), and it allows me to have times when I am not on medication. I feel like I might be shooting myself in the foot with this approach because I do get very druggy feeling when I take it because I don't have tolerance. It is also leaving me with large chunks of time when the pain is not as adequately managed as I would like.

I was wondering if the ER formulas actually cause less of a druggy feeling and leave you feeling more normal since there is a constant level of medication in the system? I was also wondering if you have less side effects with the ER (I have n/v issues with most short acting opioids)?

I guess I was just curious for those that have been on both regular and ER opioids, which do you prefer and why? For whatever reason I'm feeling pretty scared about switching to an ER formula, but I don't want my fear to cause me to miss something that could be better than how I am managing now. My doctor is of course making all the medication decisions, but he is very good to allow me some input...Thanks :)


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    Over the years I have been on all sorts of pain medications. I do know that one of the more successful combination was Extended Release medication combined with Immediate Release for breakthrough pain.

    An example would be taking 1 xxmg of Oxycontin (ER) medication in the morning and then 1 xxmg of Oxycontin at night. (Generally 8-12 hours later)

    In between, if pain started to increase, you would take an Immediate Release Pain medication (Oxycodone xmg).

    The ER medication provides you with a steady amount of pain release over the course of the day. This way, you will not get that drowsy, druggy feeling. That is also why it is so important to NEVER break or crush any ER medication.

    The IR type of medications taken alone will provide you with a quick relief of pain, but it doesnt last that long (2-6 hours) so you wind up taking more.. Doing that over a course of a day, can leave you very groggy.

    Some doctors do not always believe in the combination of ER and IR medications. Personally, I think it is one of the most effective ways in dealing with pain management.
    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
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