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First post, my experience with narcotics

MarybogieMMarybogie Posts: 20
edited 09/25/2015 - 6:37 AM in Pain Medications
Brief background. I am a 54 year old female. I am a registered nurse for 30+ years, and working the entire time.
My pain started as classic sciatica 4 1/2 years ago. I had a L5-S1 laminoforaminotomy 3 1/2 years ago, which really helped my leg symptoms, but I have been fighting low back/left glute pain ever since.
My experience with physicians is typical. Physical therapy, ad nauseum, injections, done with those, and meds.
I have Norco 10/325. I rarely take one because it only works for a couple of hours, plus the constipation that results after just one dose is really uncomfortable.
That being said, my pain is always the worst towards the end of the day, when I am less active. About a month ago, I had started taking a Norco daily at night. After a couple of weeks, I noticed that my pain during the day was worse. With nothing else changing, it had to be the Norco.
I have stopped taking it. At night when my pain is worse, I stretch, and make myself do some activity.
I would be happy if I could just sit comfortably. I really only have intolerable pain if I am forced to sit. Car rides, meetings, etc.
No doctor has been able to alleviate this one problem.
I am convinced that physicians have no clue how to treat chronic back pain. I have been told that the only option left for me is a fusion.
And no guarantees this will work.
I see patients every day who are coming in for fusion revisions, reexplorations, repeat surgeries. My research on this surgery has convinced me that fusion surgery is no more successful at treating pain than conservative measures.
So, like many on this forum, I wait for a breakthrough. And live with my pain.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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    Spinal stenosis since 1995
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  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 497
    I hope you feel some relief soon. Like you, I would rather not take meds, and also tried doing stretches and pt moves at work to try and ward off pain flares...never found anything that would help that way, so meds were always needed.

    From reading here also, I understand why one may get the impression fusion surgery is such a gamble. And even though many may still be suffering, most have different life circumstances from one another.

    Even though we can learn from the paths others have chosen, and how that has impacted their lives, we still have to remember that doesn't mean our own results will be like those of another.
  • My apologies if this comes across wrong but I would not call a 10/325 Norco once a day experience with opiates. The two - fours hours of relief from a short acting opiate and the constipation are both expected and should not have been a surprise. I believe Miaralax accompanied my first set prescriptions which covered pain around the clock.

    i am not advocating that a person should or should not take opiates.The decision of whether to live in pain or not is a personal choice and it becomes even more difficult to make if the pain is going to be life long. My pain had an end in sight so it was easy for me to commit.

    People do need to know that opiate therapy does exist and it far exceeds a single Norco once per day. As a quick example I was on 15x that amount at the height of my injury and still worked, drove, and spent time with the family. And yes, I had to deal with nausea and take Miralax every day.

    I am sorry for your back pain and hope that the fusion is successful if you decide to do that.

    Best wishes.
  • I don't think anyone ever decides to live with pain. I was expressing my frustration at the lack of effective options to treat chronic pain.
    I know relying on meds is not for me. It certainly works for others. When conservative measures have been exhausted, what else can one do? Yes, live with it as best as one can. I am grateful I've been able to keep on working. It has saved my sanity.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    Everyone has choices on how to deal with pain.
    Narcotics and opiates have never been the answer, though many people think it should be. You need the total package. Read the The Blend This was a thread I put together over 5 years ago. The concept still works and many people realize that this is really one of your best options. Everyone is different, so, you may not go for everything , but I encourage you to give it a try.
    marybogie said:

    I am convinced that physicians have no clue how to treat chronic back pain. I have been told that the only option left for me is a fusion.
    Dont give up on the medical field. Acute pain is easy to deal with. People that have spinal problems for a while (6-18 months) is also easier to deal with. But dealing with chronic pain, those that have been suffering for 2,5, 10, 20 and more years is much more difficult. Many chronic pain patients no longer have options for surgery, since they have already had so many. They look for other options and working with your doctor is just one of those options.

    Before considering surgery, I would get second opinions just so that you have two medical doctors diagnosing the same thing and have the same type of treatment plan.
    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
  • Ron certainly knows his stuff when it comes to dealing with life-long pain and I would certainly subscribe to a blend in that situation, it will give you the best all around life. Keep moving and keep living the best that you can. Who knows what the future holds, there may be times in your life when the pain is negligible.
  • MarybogieMMarybogie Posts: 20
    edited 09/26/2015 - 12:57 PM
    "Keep moving and keep living the best you can."
    That's very eloquent and true. One foot in front of the other.
    As a nurse, I have avoided frequent doctor visits. There is a stigma attached to chronic pain patients. There is an attitude toward these patients by medical professionals that we exaggerate our pain and are drug seeking. I see it so frequently. Lately I am finding my own way, staying on my feet, exercising regularly again. Distraction can also be a huge help when the pain level goes up.
  • Marybogie said:
    There is a stigma attached to chronic pain patients. There is an attitude toward these patients by medical professionals that we exaggerate our pain and are drug seeking.
    It's sad that those of us who do truly hurt on a non-stop basis get looked at by the medical community as drug seekers while the real drug seekers have their meds handed to them with a smile. I myself almost feel embarrassed when I go to my doctor for my refills. It's just plain sad that everything has gotten this way. Those who need help can't get help and those who don't need help get all the help they want - no questions asked.
    5 MRIs since 2010 | Severe DDD throughout entire Lumbar Region | Facet Arthrosis throughout | Spinal Canal Stenosis | Herniation L4/L5 | Broad - Based Bulging L1/L2, L2/3, L3/L4 - but still kicking - just not very high. :)
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    More than half of my years. During all that time I have ever run into a situation where the doctors did not agree with my medication routine.
    Over the years I have found that a big problem arises when the patient continues to talk to their doctors about their pain levels and nothing is helping
    The medical field is well aware of the various strengths of different narcotics. So when the have a patient who is on a high amount and the patient only wants more there is a lot of questions.
    No doctor can tell if patient A is in a lot of pain and needs. X amount of narcotics. But they do know that X amount of narcotics should address the very severe pain levels. But the patient wants more but there is no medical evidence that they need more

    This is such a difficult subject

    I have never heard of any doctor withholding levels of narcotics from patients that really need them

    Many times it boils down to want vs need
    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
  • I absolutely agree..I also think that chronic pain patients fear not being believed, or need to feel justified every time walking into a refill appointment. That stigma is a great burden upon us who have legitimate reasons for being on narcotics. I've seen other doctors for other reasons and several have been surprised or maybe suspicious as to why I'm on so many pain meds..I only take 2 narcotics, the rest are muscle relaxers, anti inflammatories, etc. All I have to say is "I've had back surgeries and have chronic back pain" and it is sufficient. I've noticed that some think "how could she possibly still have pain?" Chronic pain does not work that way. We still experience acute pain. It is a difficult, complex condition to treat and pain meds do not take it all away, it helps us to function and a better quality of life.
    Ol' Spiney...Microdiscectomy L4-L5, TLIF L4-S1 -post op central disc herniation L4-S1, sciatic nerve damage, retrolisthesis, epidural fibrosis, facet arthropathy, severe DDD & OA.FBSS- Medtronic SynchroMed II pump.
  • Things have changed Ron. Outside of surgery and cancer the practice of Pain Management seems to have taken over anything past a 10mg Hydrocodone. The other doctors do not want the responsibility of patients that need higher dosages which I can understand. The part that bothers me and should concern everyone is that a large percentage of them are being taught that the long term use of opiates doesn't work and that a person can't function or possibly need high dosages of them. These physicians and the people that teach that I wish nothing but a cervical herniation with nerve damage and unrelenting pain and numbness. I am aware that goes against the teachings of Christ but some people just won't get it until they feel the pain.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,476
    ....my primary doctor sent me to a headache clinic for my migraines. He even said that they will medicate me in dosages he is not expert at, and not comfortable to prescribe himself.
    But he was supportive and worked well with headache doctor.

    About decade ago, same thing with my GI doctor. He realized I needed daily control of pain for issues that involved him at that time.
    But GI told me, he would need to see me ...every time... I was in pain so he could rule out other issues, before he would medicate me.
    Since we both realized that wasn't real life doable, with chronic pain, he too was very supportive of pain management.

    And at about that time, my primary referred me to pain management. So, I have had understanding from doctors who have known me. They knew what that they didn't know.....

    But ER visits have been uncomfortable at times. With ER for migraines, ER for out of control pain, ER for heart attack, and ER for most symptomatic stroke, they were very slow to believe me and therefore slow to treat me.
    Thankfully, the cardiac enzymes are something not to ignore, so in that instance their affect and care towards me did change.

    I've never had pharmacy people look at me strangely, nor ever comment on my meds...all very respectful.

    I don't go looking for the suspicions either. I go about as if we are all doing as we should, and if they have issue..it's theirs, not mine. For ex: the sometimes ER experiences...their problem, but effects my care.
    So, after crisis, I continue on until I find someone who will listen...and I change ER.

    I don't know what they teach the doctors, but I think most people in general have a difficult time understanding what is outside the box of their experiences.
    That's why I like specialists so much. They keep up in their field. I mean, it's impossible to know everything about everything.
    And so many more treatments than even five years ago...and they've been more so successful, for some of my other issues.

    I also think there is problem with that little face chart for pain scale. I think it is geared more for acute pain.
    I don't think you can look at chronic pain sufferer and judge the same way.

    My heart attack was toward beginning of my spinal issues, but I not yet on narcotics.
    The medical professionals comments then and since of, ...but you look so good...are crazy making.

    I guess just have to work with system best as possible and try to educate those doctors within our circle, sharing to them about our chronic pain lifestyles.
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    I can not speak outside of Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk and Hartford CT, plus several hospitals in NYC.

    But in those hospitals and the doctors who are affiliated with those hospitals provide many different levels of pain medication.

    An associate of mine has been dealing with stenosis and lumbar problems. He can not walk at this point. The doctors (not pain management or surgical) have given him 40mg Oxycontin for several months now, tampering down to 20mg plus Butrans 10 and 15mcg patches. There never seems to be any issue prescribing any dosage of pain medication.
    I know that surgeons prefer lower dosages.

    Maybe the situation is more state or area sensitive.
    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
  • dilauro said:
    Maybe the situation is more state or area sensitive.
    I think you hit the nail right on the head with that statement. I live in northeast Alabama and several years ago this part of the state was featured on National Geographic - we were known - and still are known as "Meth Mountain". Meth busts around this area are crazy high. Just 2 nights ago there were 5 people arrested for manufacturing (I forgot the total one pots found or the total amount seized - but it was crazy).

    I had a doctors appointment just this morning for my normal refills - blood pressure, Mobic, Norco etc.. and the "heads" were out in full force in line wanting their fix at the office... I do think it is very much area sensitive. But it still bites that those of us who truly need the help - often times get looked at in the same way as those who don't need the help. The hospitals around here don't give narcotics unless it's broken, ripped or torn. I had a complete Quadriceps tendon rupture about 6 years ago (my right quadriceps tore loose from the bone) and the hospital didn't really do anything for me since nothing showed up on the x-ray. They did give something like Lortab 5 or something very mild.
    5 MRIs since 2010 | Severe DDD throughout entire Lumbar Region | Facet Arthrosis throughout | Spinal Canal Stenosis | Herniation L4/L5 | Broad - Based Bulging L1/L2, L2/3, L3/L4 - but still kicking - just not very high. :)
  • Your way is much more powerful than mine Savage and that is how I should strive to be. I need to drop the anger and be thankful for what I have learned.

    ... I don't know man. A lot of forces are out there that could overtake someone's goodwill. There are plenty of places that do not believe in opiates and it is absolutely a dangerous thing...
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