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Not sure which way to go.

ashtonaaashtona Posts: 55
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Pain Medications
To be brief about my medical issues, I have had severe back issues for about 10 years but only in the past 3 years has it require medical intervention. It used to be that I would throw my back out, take a fist full of advil, lay down for 3 days and be back on my feet.

Recently, I haven't been without pain for a single day.

My Primary as well as my surgeon are both astonished at the level of pain I am in. There is a pain that goes from my backside, down my left leg into my foot and it feels like my leg is ripping in half. This is 24 hours a day. I haven't slept through the night in god knows how long. I basically sit in my recliner with two pillows under my knees, a heating pad on my back and an ice pack under my left knee every night.

My wife has to dress me and tie my shoes in the morning and my mom has to help me care for my 3 year old at night as I can't do very much.

Ok, that was less "brief" than I intended.

Anyway, they disagnosed me with the normal "DDD" stuff and the old "hang in there, things will get better." Well, they aren't.

My surgeon told me he would do the surgery if I wanted but he would rather not. VERY reassuring.

Now onto my dilemma. I am on 100MG MSContin's twice a day and 4 or 5 15MG Morphine Sulfate IR's as needed in between. I am now on 5MG Valium at night to help me sleep through the night because I am exhausted from not sleeping.

This is no longer working. At first, I would get some relief but now, I am getting none at all. My Dr thinks this is because I am aggravating it at work and it is counteracting the medication. He thinks that over the holidays he would like to assess my current doses since I will be relaxed and not working and see if it is the meds or my job, so he refilled me for two weeks with an office visit on the 4th.

He suggested that I either switch to Methadone or Fentanyl if we find that my current doses of Morphine are actually not working. The word Methadone scares the crap out of me, I won't lie about that. I hear it and think all kinds of horrible things.

Fentanyl sounds ok. It is a patch from what I understand. I don't have to take a fist full of pills daily and I just put it on and forget about it.

I would like to hear people's opinions that have experience with both. I am at a loss of what to do here. My wife is nervous, my mother is nervous, everyone that is involved with my day to day life because of this injury is nervous.

So any opinions are appreciated and I am VERY sorry for the long post that was supposed to be "brief." :)


  • The first half of your post reads like mine prior to my PLIF. Can you get a second/ third opinion from another NS/OS? I was told DDD for many years and it is true I have it, but I also had instability in my spine that was not detected until I had the flexion/extension xrays ordered by my NS after he said that my MRI wasn't that bad.

    As far as the meds- can you try Ambien for sleeping? I started taking it this summer and I love it. I usually sleep 7-8 hours solid which was much better than the 2-4 hours I was getting before. Valium works great on my muscle spasms but I felt super drugged all day. The Ambien doesn't do that to me. However, some people report that Ambien isn't right for them.

    I can't do morphine or fentanyl. I just take Oxycontin CR 30 mg morning and night and Oxycodone for BT pain. I also changed my muscle relaxer several times. I am now taking Robaxin (it took 2-3 weeks to build up in my system. I was taking zanaflex (generic 4 mg) but it really knocked me out. I ended up cutting them in half- but still felt zonked. Skelaxin and flexile haven't worked for me for a long time.

    Alot of Spinal patients are using nerve meds. Have you tried any of these? You can usually take them in addition to your pain meds.

    I am sure your work is probably adding to your pain. Any physical activity will have me hurting more than taking it easy.

    Have you talked to your PM about a pain pump or SCS? It might be some thing to consider. Although these are last resort items and not everyone can have them.

    Merry Christmas & Feel Better,


  • Never feel sorry about posting what you feel right now! It is how you feel, it does good to acknowledge it, then when the words have been said, it sometimes gives a cathartic release.

    We have all been there, maybe not your exact story, but we have our own. Most are very similar.

    Welcome - enjoy the company! Chat later
  • are both excellent pain medications. Methadone was originally one of the earliest opiate pain medications, if that helps you any to start changing your mental reactions to methadone. Don't feel badly about reacting that way, many of us have when we first heard it as well.
    Fentanyl does come in a patch, in various dosages, but you do have to watch so that the patch doesn't come off, and many of us who have used them used a bioclusive dressing on the top of the patch to hold it in place.
    Methadone works really well for both mechanical and nerve pain, and it sounds like you have both going on. Have you had another recent MRI and flexion and extension xrays? If not, you may want to talk to your doctor about it. Methadone can be dosed two or three times a day, depending on your doctors recommendations, and the bonus is that it has a long half life, so you don't get the high and low blood levels that you get with other opiate pain medications.
    With any new medication though, you have to give your body time to adjust to the side effects and to reach an optimal blood plasma level before deciding if it will work for you or not.
    I hope that you can find some answers and pain medications that you feel are working well for you.
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