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How Long Do Most Stay on Pain Medications?

crazycowladyccrazycowlady Posts: 6
edited 09/21/2015 - 12:38 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I had surgery on Sept 15, spinal fusion and laminectomy at level L4-L5. I have one incision on my right abdomen where the graft was inserted, and two small incisions on my posterior back from the laminectomy-screw insertion. I was sent home on Wednesday September 16 and was taking 2 percocet tablets every 4 hours. I have weaned myself down to taking one percocet every 6 hours or so. I don't want to hurt, but I also don't want to get addicted to pain medication. How much medication should I be taking at this point? My surgeon is no help, he just says everyone is different and that I should stay comfortable. Any words of wisdom? Thank you.

Please remember that no one at Spine-Health is a formally trained medical professional so not permitted to give medical advice. Everything that is posted here is based on personal experiences and perhaps additional research


  • jamesgirllljjamesgirlll Posts: 115
    edited 09/21/2015 - 4:10 AM
    You are not likely to get addicted to pain killers if you are only on them a few weeks after surgery.........
    I did get addicted to percocet when I had to take it every 4-6 hours for 19 weeks due to a sphincteroplasty (butt surgery)
    and quit them cold turkey and went through withdrawel symptoms.

    But if you are on them for....say...a month.... you shouldn't get addicted.....

    Forum Rule:
    5.06 You agree not to post information that is considered to be formal medical advice.

    Your post contains wording that may be considered as giving medical advice. It is very important that everyone understand that
    there are no medical professionals on this site, so therefore any comments are solely opinions based on personal experiences.
    They should never been taken as medical fact.

    -- Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Moderator 09/21/15

    I agree with your surgeon...everyone IS different and you should try to remain comfortable because pain delays healing....

  • I didn't have that surgery, but I still took my oxycodone occasionally for....6 months. I was on it fairly regularly until I went back to work at 8 weeks, then obviously not while working, so I only took it at bedtime.

    ACDF w/Corpectomy C3-6 12/8/14 ; Laminectomy C3-6  5/19/2016

  • The only thing I can say is that we all recover differently and the worse thing you can do is compare yourself to others. That will only make you feel inadequate. Sounds like your doctor is understanding of this and is ok with you still needing pain meds.
    It will get better. I am 20 weeks post op ACDF and still need a pain pill every couple days. If you are worried about addiction talk to your doctor about it. When I told my doctor I was worried I would get addicted he said "let me worry about that, you just do what you need to do to recover and be comfortable "
    You're barely a week out of surgery. That's very early in recovery, there is still a lot of healing and pain going on. Listen to your doctor and be comfortable.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    There really isn't any formula to say when a person should no longer need pain medications. As others have commented here, every individual is different and every situation is different.

    Some patients can eliminate all pain medications after 3 months. Some need it for up to 18 months or so.

    Then there are some that will need some level for life.

    I fit into this category. For me, the saga just continues. Just when I am starting to really feel good in one area, something else happens requiring surgery. My only hiatus for any type of surgery was between 2000 and 2010. But in between that time, the problems that did require surgery after 2010 was the cause for so many extended flare ups. I wish I could say, my surgeries are over, but with degenerative arthritis eating my joints, its just a few years before the knees will need to be replaced.

    Because of this, I have been on pain medications non-stop since 2006. Prior to that, I was on pain medications from 1978 through 2000 at various times. Since 2006, I have been on some high dosages of Oxycontin combine with Oxycodone breakthrough, plus patches. Today, I am on what you might describe as a maintenance level. Oxycodone IR 5mg PRN. Some days its 2 pills, some days its 6. I see my physiatrist once a month, for follow ups and since I am a narcotic patient. She has never questioned my need for the medication. At times we have had to increase it, and we both work on plays to reduce it as much as possible. But will I always need them? More than likely.

    My physiatrist has always said, that there is a major difference between a person who

    WANTSthe pain medication
    NEEDS the pain medication

    As long as your doctor and yourself are in agreement with your pain medications, I would tend not to worry
    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
  • Everyone is in fact different when it comes to their pain threshold and tolerance of it. I had multi level thoracic fusion ( T4-T8) 1 year ago wednesday. I was in the hospital for 6 days and they were giving me pain meds while there. By the end of the first week out of the hospital I quit taking the pain meds they prescribed me and haven't taken any since. I wasn't in nearly enough pain to warrant taking them. It probably helped that I didnt do anything but lay around all day. The worst of my pain was the incision area whenever I needed to sit up to stand up or lay back down. Other than that my pain has been fairly manageable but i'm also still fairly limited on what i'm allowed to do. You're only a few days post op so just take it a day at a time and see how things go. Who knows, by the end of next week you may feel like I did and not need to take anything anymore. Best of luck to you.
    September 2014 : T6 burst fracture, multilevel fusion from T4-T8
  • I kept a pain diary and meds list pretty religiously during my recovery. I can tell you that these are the daily totals for pain meds. (I also took Tylenol and Flexeril)
    Day 2 post-op: 4 percocets (500mgs I think but might have been 750)
    Day 3 -- 3
    Day 4 -- 3 p
    Day 5 - Only 1 all day
    Day 6 - NONE!
    Day 7 - None
    Day 8 - None
    Day 9 - None
    Day 10 -- had been overdoing it so I ended up taking 1 percocet
    Day 11 -- 1 percocet

    Not too bad! (I stopped because I didn't need them, not because I didn't have any more.)
    C5/6 herniation, type 2 diabetes, generalized anxiety disorder
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