Many times folks here ask the question What is the difference between ER and IR medications and what is breakthrough?
All very legitimate questions and until you have been dealing with pain for a while and various prescriptions, there would be no need for any of you to understand that.
ER - Extended Release
These medications are designed to provide a patient with an even amount of pain relief through a course of time. Normally that spans 10 hours.
Based on a patients problem, that could be changed to 8 hours or 12 hours.
The actual dosages of these ER medications will vary. I will use Oxycontin as an example, since that is a medication many people have heard about.
It comes in various dosages, 10, 20, 40, 60, etc0 mg per pill. The amount you need is something that your doctor will decide, Normally you take these ER medications twice a day. The objective of ER medications is to provide the patient with a constant amount of pain relief without doing so much that the patient is knocked out
IR - Immediate Release
These medications are designed to provide the patient with quick relief from pain. Many people who have first been on pain medications are normally prescribed this type. (ie Vicodin, Percocet, etc) They do their job, provide a patient with instant relief, but its something that does not last a long time.
These medications are used for patients that are taking ER medications. During the course of time between ER dosages, these breakthrough medications are designed to help the patient with pain relief.
To put it in very simple terms. When you are taking ER medications, you may not feel that you are taking anything. BUT, the fact is you should also be having less pain. Now, the IR. That is the immediate relief. You may or may not feel that sense of euphoria. That relief though is normally short term.
The most important point is that You should NEVER crush any ER medication
You take them whole. It could create respiratory problems and potentially fatal if you ingested crushed ER medication.
Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health