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Do your pain meds zone you out?

happyHBmomhhappyHBmom Posts: 2,070
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Pain Medications
I am beginning to think (and have had some confirmation from doctors that this is the case) that you can't have it all. Taking enough pain meds to get rid of severe pain is just going to zone you out.

But I don't like being a dope.

For you guys with moderate-severe pain, do your pain meds give you a lot of brain numbness? You know, like someone asks you when you got your dog and you go... uhhh, I'd have to think about that.

Or should I be trying yet another pain med? My NS told me straight out that taking the kind of meds I'm taking don't make it easy to live a normal life. And I'm finding that's true, wondered what you guys think.

It's beginning to give me a bit of an idea why pain doctors are hesitant to prescribe them, although they should just say why rather than beating around the bush about it.

FWIW, I'm on baby meds compared to some. 60-90 mg/day MS-contin and 2-3x/day Norco. I tried the Fentanyl patch and found it was much worse at the lowest dose. Oxy tends to upset my stomach a bit. Not sure what my other options would be. But, I'm hoping to be taking less meds if my surgery is successful :) (see that, my friends? That is light at the end of the tunnel.) I think the Norco is the biggest offender. I think I might start cutting it in half.


  • HB if I took all that I would be a zombie. The neurontin that I take is enough to make me forget the next word in my sentence. I do that all the time. Or I start a story and half way through I have to ask what we were talking about. For me short term seems to be worse than long term.

    But on the other side of the coin the pain without the meds would keep me in bed.

    Like everything in life it's a balance. Taking enough to cut the pain and as little as possible so you can function.
  • I believe that docs don't say much about the possibility of certain side effects, for fear of their patients giving in to the power of suggestion.

    Each person reacts/handles medication so incredibly different from one another, that it really is difficult to know if certain symptoms are caused by that specific medication or not. I've been on high daily amounts of opioids while taking a high dose of Neurontin and Baclofen. All of it at the same time. Most people would be unable to function taking all of that at once or even one of those by itself. I was never impaired by it and functioned just fine at work and at home. I could drive and scuba dive regardless of the medications.

    It's impossible to say whether you would have any better luck with something else, or the same thing on a different dose schedule. Sometimes chronic pain patients become "Chemistry Experiments" in order to get some measure of relief. Talk to your doc and let him/her know your concerns.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    (like 6 or 7) when my pain doctor was giving me only Vicodin (and increasing dosages), I did get zoned out from time to time.

    Every since I've been with my physiatrist, that has never happened. Even though I have and am currently on more medication than I was back then.

    The Extended Release medications combined with
    low dosage breakthrough help with the pain levels, but keep me totally alert. I had bad luck with Lyrica, but since I've been using Neurontin, no problems. Soma has helped my spasms.

    Still, I can not recall a time in the last several years where I did feel loopy from medications.

    (Oh, updated, yes, with my current mix, if I used ambien, I was totally loopy)
    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
  • My Dr. won't give me break through meds only extended relief. I found taking percocet made me more irritable and made me more sleepy. She would rather increase my ER then give break through meds for me anyway, I have less side effects. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • sleepy with my meds... I'm on 40mg oxycontin twice daily and then can take 20 mg IR 6 times if needed. I think it's the IR that does it to me? But my hubby is always asking "why are you falling asleep" as I try to pry my eyes open and deny it! lol
  • No, I don't feel zoned out and the only time that I can ever recall feeling that way was taking methadone and it wasn't so much that I was zoned out, but became rather stupid- couldn't remember things and I would become sleepy after a dose.
    I have taken everything from vicoden to methadone at one time or another and am currently taking 60 mg of oxycontin twice a day, 15 mg IR oxycodone - up to 6 times a day, 200 mg of Lyrica three times a day, and zanaflex 6 mg, three times a day.
    I believe that finding the right combination of medications that give decent pain relief, and being able to live your life with modifications is the goal or should be. But it does take a long time it seems to find that magic combination of medications, physical activity and reduced pain levels.
  • I take Lyrica, Oxycodone, and occassionally Motrin and Tizanidine (muscle relaxant). I find I now need anywhere between 9 and 11 hours sleep a night, I bump into things, drop things much more easily, and if I'm tired, Lyrica makes it so I can't even remember my mother's name, or finish a sentence without stumbling. It also makes me emotional when I'm tired or stressed - I get all upset and confused if someone starts hassling me. Oxy just snoozes me out, feel good. I take the tizanidine when I have a flare up or hurt my back from doing too much - the combo of all three makes me only good for the sofa. I'm very sensitive to opiates, and only take 3 x 5-325mg oxy a day - that's after 3 and a half years of building up tolerance to it. My pain is severe - I have been "rated" as "totally disabled" - and although if I lie around all day, with my meds it's only a 2 or 3, still, if I try to be more active, it quickly goes to a 5 - 6, and potentially up to a 10.

    I did take Celebrex and Tramadol for a while - which was a GREAT combo, that did not zone me out much at all (I would break the Tramadol up - as advised by my PM so I wouldn't vomit). But then the Celebrex gave me thick scaly skin over my entire head and neck (eww!) and made my hair fall out (I lost about half of it), so I stopped that, and then I realized the Celebrex had been masking the splitting headaches that Tramadol gave me - so I had to stop the Tramadol too. If you're in this for the long haul too - you have to watch Tramadol - after 13 years of being on it, my stepmothers kidneys/liver completely failed all of a sudden. It's a chemical. Nevertheless, this was a great non-zoning out combo for me, and - I AM NOT A DOCTOR - but I would recommend these are worth a try, from my experience.
  • It's very common to feel sleepy or tired when you first start taking a new medication, even non narcotic like Cymbalta for ex. After a while this should diminish or maybe go away completely, depending on what you are taking and how much. I take 5 75mg of Lyrica, 60mg Cymbalta, and Robaxim as needed, and Oxycodone 15mg for BT pain. When I go to my PM appts, they want to make sure you are not falling asleep midsentence or forgetting what your name is. The doctor wants to get you where you still function and still be coherent when your meds are titrated.
  • ...last night when I wrote what I take! I am on 60mg oxycontin, not 40...and then 20mg oxycondone IR up to 6 a day. The topamax makes me very forgetful. And my prozac is a new med for me, so I'm getting used to it. If I know I'm going to be around someone, I decrease my dose so I'm not drowsy to them. I never want to look drugged up to friends...but if I'm home and in pain, I will take my meds and feeling sleepy is a benefit for me when I'm hurting a lot. God bless you!!
  • I take norco, flexeril, and neurotin, every day, and my brain is definitely in a fog, sometimes worse then others.
    Seen ssdi lawyer today and i told him i can'nt drive a semi-truck on this stuff, besides the fact it is illegal to. and not safe.

    But i'll take these over stuff i took in 2004 for a knee surgery, the doctors had me on vioxx and bextra, before the FDA pulled them off the shelves.
    That stuff was scary, definitely made me a crabby person. I told my family what was causing it and took them back to doctor and told her i'm not taking these anymore.
  • I also take topamax, cymbalta, ambien, a beta blocker for my blood pressure, and prevacid. Something about the combo has me loopy.

    I've managed over the last few days (we've been on a trip so I could just really do nothing) to back off almost completely on the B/T meds, and that helped some with the feeling of zoning, but it didn't help the sleepiness. I guess that's something else.

  • I don't usually feel 'zoned-out' by my medicines, except on the days when I'm unable to get out and have to stay at home and spend most of the day just sitting or lying down -- at times like this I sometimes do drift off, but more because of lack of activity than the meds, I think. I have felt dopey and forgetful before when just starting new meds, though -- especially things like anticonvulsants or antidepressants (and sometimes muscle relaxants). These types of medication are more likely to give me 'brain-fog' than the opioids that I've tried.

    A typical day's medication for me goes something like this:


    - Temgesic 0.8 - 1.2mg (for pain)
    - Tramadol ER 200mg (for pain)
    - Diazepam or other muscle relaxant (for pain)
    - Perindopril (for hypertension)
    - Diovan (for hypertension)
    - Benzbromarone (I have gout, on top of everything else - lucky me!)
    - Nexium (for GI problems - GERD, etc.)
    - Mopride (GI problems)
    - Gascon (GI)
    - Anti-biophillus (GI)
    - Vitamins tablet


    - Temgesic
    - a muscle relaxant
    - more GI meds, minus the Nexium, which is once daily


    - Temgesic (sometimes get by with less in the evening, if I'm lucky)
    - muscle relaxant
    - GI meds

    before bed:

    - either Rohypnol 2mg, Temazepam 20mg or Halcion 0.25mg (occasional use only)

    I use TENS as well -- sometimes it helps a little, sometimes not.

    I'm also just starting to try Neurontin again, as new nerve pain has flared up fiercely in the last couple of weeks. It's really bad in my neck and down my whole left arm, which is new to me -- over the past 20 years my problems have mainly been in the lumbar and lumbosacral area, but now it seems I have cervical spine issues as well. I have already been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy and the neurologist I'm seeing suspects I have cervical spondylosis and possibly other neck problems as well. I had a series of x-rays done last week and this week I'm scheduled to go in for nerve conduction tests on my arms. I expect the next thing will be an MRI, depending on the results of the other tests.

    Back to the meds: I'm thinking of quitting the tramadol, which I honestly don't think is helping much, if at all (it's just not strong enough for the pain levels I have now). My doctor suggested switching to a tricyclic antidepressant like amitrptyline, or to something newer like venlafaxine. I'd rather not add anything, but my pain isn't very well controlled right now, mostly due to the overly strict laws regarding opioid prescription here. I can only get Temgesic and tramadol, which are Schedule III and IV respectively -- other than that they only have morphine and fentanyl, and don't prescribe them for non-cancer pain, so I don't have the option of rotating opioids or trying new combinations, which is common in pain clinics in the US and Europe. I asked the pain clinic doctor why they don't follow the WHO pain management guidelines (the 'analgesic ladder') over here, and he responded "we do, we just don't use the opioids." See what I'm up against?!

    HappyHBmom, it seems we have some similar conditions (spine problems, hypertension, GI stuff) -- it's not a nice combination, is it? Good luck figuring out which meds are causing the loopiness.
  • No, it's not a nice combo at all! I was much better off until everything started taking me for a ride earlier this year- my blood pressure skyrocketed, my stomach started fighting me, and my spine started deteriorating all at the same time. So I've had to crank up all of my meds. Of course, I've had to crank up the antidepressant too.

    I had, in that time, 5 different blood pressure medicines, some of which made me really sick. I was having stomach procedures (I had an endoscopy and a nuclear scan of my gallbladder) and having bad stomach pain. Ugh.

    And now I'm just sleepy and groggy and blah a lot of the time. If I get in the car I'm asleep in 5 minutes. It's pretty distressing.

    On the other hand I went camping and had a good time- I was able to have a nice hike of about 1/2 mile and not complain too much ;)
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