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Long term narcotic medication - seeking opinions

aimlessaaimless Posts: 372
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Pain Medications
Hello - I herniated L5 / S1, had a discectomy in Jan 2007, and re-herniated the same disc in Dec 2007. I am trying to avoid surgery, so working with my doctor to find a combination of meds, phys therapy etc to address the pain. I have been taking Amitriptyline for the past few weeks (nerve pain) and am finding it doesn't help. I had also been taking one 800mg ibuprofin every morning for the past 6 months, and now it doesn't seem to be helping relieve the pain.

I was desperate a couple of weeks ago, and pulled out my old bottle of Hydrocodone that I was taking before my surgery last year. Sure enough, one 500mg dose gave me incredible relief. I could walk, go up and down stairs, stand for more than a few minutes, all with almost no pain. I've taken it about 3 times since then with the same results.

My question - is it a viable solution to take Vicodin / Hydrocodone for perhaps a few months, maybe longer? Is anyone taking narcotics long-term? Have you built up a tolerance, having to increase your dosage?

I'm seeing my doc next week, and will certainly discuss with him, just curious to know what the rest of the "spine community" does to address pain day in-day out.


  • A lot of us here are one long term narcotic meds.I started with Percocet for about couple of months.After my spine got infected,moved up to the more serious stuff-IV Dilaudid in the
    hospital(PCA Pump) and then,Oxycontin ER.Started with 60mg/day.Now I am at 10mg/day,thinking of stopping it and get something "lighter" as needed.Started PT and feeling better every day.As far as tolerance,it is all on individual basis.I guess,you have to see how the meds will affect you.
    Besides,Vicodin is probably the "lightest" narcotic based med.
    Discussing it with doc is the best idea.

    Good luck,G.
  • :) i have been taking narcotic medications for well over 20 years for pain. if you are finding relief with the vicodin then stick with it! no need to try anything else till that medication becomes ineffective if ever for you. if you take narcotics for a long period of time your body will become dependant on the medication. those of us that use them accept this and run our lives accordingly. good luck to you and i hope you find yourself functioning once again with the appropriate medication. Jenny :)
  • My PM dr told me in August a slow release Vicoden pill will become available.
    I have tried everything under the moon and am still trying.
    As far as narcotics - I was on the patch, the Avinza and now am trying Oxycontin for two weeks.
    I like the oxy the most so far because there have been minimal side effects. But it doesnt last the full 12 hours as it states. I am on 20mg 2x a day. I am wondering if my doc would allow 30mg for during the day and 20mg for night?? I take norco for BT pain and it does well. I am given 3 per day, but sometimes find myself needing 4...but I am not sure how to ask for it.
    Good luck and keep us posted as to what your doctor decides to put you on.

  • Right now as a long term option I'm currently taking 30 mg of Oxycontin with nothing for breakthrough pain (my doctors don't believe it's "necessary" to treat breakthrough pain). I anticipate that I'll be on this for a good while, because my injury apparently isn't long term (I have a gluteal muscle tear). I wish you the best of luck on your case!
  • Thank you all for your 2 cents, I appreciate it. Will let you know Wednesday what the verdict is on meds, but it sounds like the vicodin could be a solution. I know I'll never be "normal" again, but if I can find a medication that will help me feel stronger (or at this point, just to feel like I am not getting weaker) then I could be more active and reclaim a bit of normalcy...

    -- Melissa
  • Hi folks - I've just been prescribed Tramadol 100mg[ultram] slow release by my doc,for my DDD and yes it works [so far]. I've tried a lot of different anti inflammatories and neuropathic pills and nothing has really worked or has had unpleasant side effects. The only thing I did get on with was Codafen Continuus [Ibuprofen + Codiene] but I can't get it on prescription anymore.
    It basically comes down to quality of life vs possible addiction + side effects/ long term effects. Once I get my epidural in a few weeks hopefully I'll be able to wean myself off the opiates. You gotta remember that avoidance of pain is a great incentive - and most of us on here probably couldn't cope without a supply of meds within easy reach.
  • Hi, Aimless (make sure they don't use THAT name on your Rx labels!! THAT would get you some weird looks!)
    I won't go into my whole history now, but after having my 1st back surgery at the age of 22, I had a lot of ongoing problems with chronic pain since then. I'm 48 now. I was on percocet for about 20 yrs, without really going up in dose too much. I just took the meds every 4 hrs. as needed, and my dose never was more than 12 per day. The side effect I started having was from the acetominophen- bad stomachaches. Plus I had to be in great shape mentally for my job, and I noticed I would get kinda fuzzy when I took them at work. After talking to my dr. he put me on the ER oxycodone 40mg, 1 morning, 1 at night. That was a few yrs ago. When I ruptured my disc in March of this yr, I had to ask for IR oxy so I could try to do the intense PT (that it turns out I should NOT have been doing!) because the pain was horrendous. My dose went up significantly, and it was a problem that I was taking so much at the time of my latest surgery. (fusion, a week ago). I guess the whole point of my post is this advice: Always take as little as you can that works, starting w/the less-powerful stuff like Vicodin, and try to keep from taking too much tylenol, which is bad for your liver. Other than that (& occasional constip. - I now eat a very healthy whole-grain diet w/lots of fruits and veges to compensate), I have been very healthy. Of course I don't smoke, or drink at all. But I have managed to have a beautiful family (had 3 kids), and have a great job for 26 yrs., so that's really all I could ask for. I did learn not to say anything about having to take the meds to anyone but my closest friends. There is definitely a big stigma-still-about the use of these meds for pain. But I can say they have allowed me to make a living and be a good mom, where before I just wanted to roll up in a ball and cry from the friggin relentless pain. So anyone who cares to criticize me for the use of them, I truly don't care. They can't begin to understand chronic pain until they have lived w/it day in and day out....... I just did what was right for ME. Good for you that you've found a tool that works that can help you to manage your pain! Good luck to you!
  • Ultram is something to try, but whatever works for you I would not really be concerned about long-term as long as you are taking it for pain. Over 2000-2007 I went on 3month-1year periods on Lortab 1-2 day and through pt and time (childbirth put a stress on my back)just stopped taking them when I didn't need them. Never had a problem, although some people will have withdrawl if you are taking 1 tab a day I doubt you will. My doc did not look at ER meds until I was up to 3 tabs a day, everyday. I have read posts and some have had success with Ultram during the day and then Vicodin/Percocet/Lortab (you fill in the blank) at the end of the day. Good luck. Remember, being in chronic pain is going to cause more problems for you than the pain meds (mentally and physically)!
  • Girl, I'm with you... I don't talk about my medication usage with anyone except some of my closest family members. I can do without the looks of "OMG you're taking drugs!" Even some of my family members have been ugly about the medication issue and SUGGEST that I have surgery or something (like you can tell a doctor to perform surgery on you), instead of taking medication and becoming addicted to it. These same family members don't think twice about taking their own medicine for bi-polar disease or depression and they watch EVERY episode of DATELINE, so they know all about pain medicine!
  • I have been on various strengths of Hydrocodone for at least 3-4 years. I waited 5 years to have my knee replaced (last summer), have a shoulder that would like to be replaced, neck collapsing in and the lower back was bulging out. Lower back fused this summer. My doctors have been nice about letting me have the Hydrocodone - usually 5/500 - so I could function. I haven't seen that I had to increase the dosage because of my tolerance built up.

  • I just got done w/ my first month of Norco 10/325 x 4 daily. In the last month they + PT and ice have given me 60-70% of my old life excepting those rare days where bed rest is all that will help.Just stay on the rx and keep in contact with your doc and it should be fine.
  • Pain meds , to me are a neccessary evil. in my case, I no longer take anything stronger than aspirin. I imagine that raises eyebrows to many, but addiction is a terrible thing. I'm new here so I'll keep my comments to myself, as everyone has there reasons. It's apparent to myself, that the dr.'s are in the biz' of pushing drugs, for some apparent reason. This is my 3rd post here, but if you get a chance, my first 2 post are in the "new members" area. Wishing all of you, succses in your search for the the correct meds.
  • So I discussed hydrocodone / vicodin with my doc today, looked at pros and cons. and decided instead to try Tramadol. They also prescribed Topamax to try instead of the Amitriptyline. No idea how I'll do with these, apparently the Tramadol has fewer side effects / less addictive than the hydrocodone. The one thing I've learned, if nothing else, is that everyone reacts to meds differently. Wish me luck...

    And yes, Musicgirl, the prescription WILL be under the name aimless - sort of - its an anagram. ;)
  • Oh,my bad!Good luck,Aimless! ;)
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