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Are Narcotics actually a "crutch"

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  • I'm really of two minds on this... I take imipramine, gabapentin & slow release OxyContin 20mg X 2 a day. Even if I'm having a good, relatively pain free day I Have to take them, else be floored by awful side effects.
    On the other hand I'd struggle to hold down a job & look after my family without so.....id say......
    A little of both!!
    Hope you're well, hoping to give you an update on my neurosurgeons decision whether to operate or not in next week or two.
    DM soon :)
    Kirsti x
  • CherylCCCherylC Posts: 185
    edited 10/31/2015 - 2:31 PM
    Have been on Fentanyl 25mcg patch plus 200mcg lozenges for breakthrough for the last two years. Sure - it helped with the pain but it added a new problem ... Withdrawal. I could never get the happy medium. I had to change the patches every 2nd day and if it was hot, my body seemed to chew through the patches even quicker and then I would start to suffer early withdrawal symptoms.

    Am withdrawing from Fentanyl at the moment and have started on Palexia so am in the middle of withdrawal hell at the moment. Hate that the meds all cause dependency issues. I told my PM that I was better off before I started on the base pain control but he, and my husband, were quick to remind me that I was spiking at a pain score of 9 -10 out of 10 on a daily basis at that point and, while hating the side effects of the base control meds, my spikes are nowhere near as bad these days.

    Still wish I didn't have to take the meds though.
  • PlumbTuckeredOutPlumbTuckeredOut Philadelphia, PAPosts: 325
    I remember before I was on continuous pain meds I was on meds to control my OCD. SO many other people with OCD would tell themselves they could "do it" by will power. Maybe, maybe not but I now know. I had to stop my OCD meds for a month (several years ago) because we thought they were causing seizures. Finally it was decided that seizures or not the world benefitted from my being on OCD meds! And trust me, I KNOW what to do to resist the compulsions- I was just a chemically different person without the meds than I am with the meds.

    I had started MS-Contin (extended release morphine) back last December 2014 I guess. By August I was experiencing a lot of pain. I thought I had fractured more bones or I was sick. No, per my pain doc, I had become dependent on that amount of MS-Contin. (I was no longer experiencing side effects) So we switched to the same amount of oxy-contin. I tried that for 30 days. I could not tolerate the pain I experienced when walking- or standing. To touch my arm to get my attention felt like I was being stabbed.

    Two days ago the doc switched me back to MS-Contin at a higher dose. I was pretty scared because I think "addiction" "tolerance"... and today I'm thinking, "Ahhhh! Thank whomever because I can just relax today and not experience excruciating pain with every movement." I can choose to change my shoes a few times a day or walk to the store or wash the floors. Pain meds allow me to function. It's not that I am in pain without the meds, I am non-human without the meds.

    Until there is a way for others to experience the pain I feel and then say, "Buck up" I'm going to go on as I have been! If people choose to judge me because I have an illness necessitating the use of medications I don't want them as friends anyway!


    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by...... (Robert Frost)
    I still don't know if I should have taken the one that said, "Caution! Dead End" (Me)
  • I always cosidered pain medications as a tool.
    I had a need to function at level....
    So i took this to get there
    Then, i had to take ...
    To get there
    Soon..i was in a escalating spiral of less function more meds
    Pushing too hard you see.
    Tore up what didnt need to be torn.

    I still need meds to function at a high level..
    But a crooked WC doc took that choice from,me..
    Now..no meds.
    Doc got sued, sanctioned and a hairs breath from losing his licence.
    I function painfully and nowhere near i need to make a life.
    As a tool, yes I used them
    As a crutch..never.
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • n2bravesnn2braves Posts: 68
    edited 10/31/2015 - 7:44 PM
    I have been at this for 22 years. Been to any and every type of Doctor that I thought might be of help. Tried every preventative med out there with either no results at all or terrible side effects. I made appointments with Doctors and then had them call me when they received all my medical records and tell me there was nothing they could do to help. I had an MD that spent 13 years trying to find something to help me until he retired 3 years ago and referred me to Pain Management.

    After looking at all my records, the PM doctor decided to put me on MS Contin and Percocet for BT and it works well for me. Keeps me out of the ER and that is a big deal for me. My MD had been giving me shots in his office twice a month which cost me very little but after he retired, had nowhere to go but ER and we all know how expensive that is.

    I sometimes get alot of anxiety about the fact that I am dependent on pain meds. Not a good thing to be but what is quality of life worth?

    Have taken a few drug holiday's in an attempt to reset my tolerance level which works but by the time I am finished with one (you know how you forget how bad it hurts without the meds til you don't have them) I am convinced that my quality of life without them would be pretty pathetic.

    In all these years I have always stayed on top of anything new that was coming out and tried new meds and procedures.

    I think it is very important to do that. Hopefully someday something will work for me and I can stop the meds completely. That will always be my goal and I will never stop trying things.

    Does that make sense?

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,856
    edited 11/01/2015 - 12:17 PM
    When you need narcotics, its a must, when you want them its a crutch
    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
  • They give me a life, versus no life and no mobility whatsoever. If they are a crutch, then I would equate them to the crutches you use when you've broken your leg or have severely injured your knee. If you want to get around after that sort of injury, you need crutches or a wheelchair. Otherwise you'll be stuck in bed or maybe the couch, and there you will stay because you're unable to walk. Without narcotic pain meds, I'm bed-bound or stuck on the couch or a chair. I would not even be able to use a wheelchair because every bump I'd roll over would cause too much pain.

    I actually have a very high tolerance to pain. Prior to my first spinal fusion surgery, I never took narcotic pain medications except when given them in the hospital (in an IV after surgery, for instance). This was true (no pain pills) despite having five surgeries, three broken bones, several root canals, many long bouts of back pain, and 10 years living with a severely torn ACL ligament and a completely unstable -- and very painful -- left knee, which I re-injured so much (due to the instability) that I became a "frequent flier" at the local ER. Over the course of many years, I was given enough pain pill prescriptions to paper my walls, and usually I didn't even bother filling them because I knew I wouldn't use those pills. I did take ONE (1) pain pill after ACL reconstruction surgery, but the rest of my very large prescription went to waste.

    But then my spine problems began to escalate. Nonetheless, I didn't take any pain pills until the months following my laminectomy-fusion surgery for C4-C5-C6 in December, 2006. My C-spine problems had become so severe by the time of surgery that I was almost paralyzed and had pain in every pore of my body, but I took no pain pills prior to the surgery, turning down the many prescription offers made by my doctor.

    After about three months taking pain meds post-op, I again went without pain pills for a couple of years. But my lumbar spine problems were becoming more and more painful and disabling, so I again began taking narcotic pain pills beginning a few months before my lumbar fusion surgery for L3-L4-L5 in 2009. Without the drugs, I would have been bedridden or wheelchair bound. The narcotics were a necessity for grocery shopping, housework, doing laundry, etc. -- even for walking. I took plenty of narcotic drugs during the lumbar fusion post-op period, because in my opinion there is NOTHING more painful than lumbar fusion surgery.

    The surgery went well but my DDD and DJD had kicked into high gear by then, so I've taken narcotic pain meds on a continuous basis, for most of the time since then. Nowadays, I have severe problems throughout my entire spine, with not just spine pain but also radicular pain in both arms and both legs. I can do almost nothing unless I take pain meds because the pain prevents all forms of activity, even activities such as getting up out of a chair, changing clothes, and taking a shower. The pain is equally bad when I'm sitting in a chair and even worse when I lie down in a bed, believe it or not. Without pain meds, I don't even feel like eating and it's impossible to sleep.

    Sitting at a computer typing this would be impossible -- even while taking such drugs as MS Contin, using a computer is very painful for me and it would be completely impossible with no meds at all. In fact, I would not even try to do this without taking pain meds. Without them, the pain would make it impossible to concentrate enough to read and respond to your post.

    In the months preceding my C-spine surgery in 2006, I had not yet begun taking pain meds and for many months, I was not able to use a computer at all, due to the pain it caused in my neck, back, shoulders, arms, and hands. Typing on the keyboard was like touching hot coals. It was one of many things I couldn't do at that time, due to pain and damage to the nerve roots that operated my hands.

    For me, narcotic pain meds are an absolute necessity.
  • Those who criticize people for using narcotic pain medication probably have no idea how severe pain can actually get, and what it's like to feel pain all day, all night, 365 days per year, for years on end. Even the person who invented the 1 to 10 pain scale probably cannot imagine such things, because I often find that scale to be inadequate and not how I measure my own pain levels. I often measure pain in terms of the activity I can or cannot do, not as a number. For instance, "Unable to sleep for 3 days," "Unable to walk," or "Unable to get out of bed" equate to various levels of severe pain.

    Here are a few of the things I deal with --

    I may have one good disc in my spine, at C1-C2. The others have all gone bad (dessicated, herniated, bulging) and many discs are missing altogether, causing various vertebra to be rubbing bone-on-bone and leaving me nearly 4 inches shorter than I used to be. I have bone spurs and arthritic changes at nearly every level of my spine -- even the bone spurs that were cut off in surgery a few years ago seem to have grown back. I have canal and foraminal stenosis at many levels of my spine, including three levels of spinal cord compression in my neck. My list of spine problems goes on and on.

    Perhaps the worst problem involves the spondylolisthesis at my L2 vertebra. L2 has slipped off L3 to the point that it closes off my spinal canal almost completely. The L2 dislocation has somehow twisted my cauda equina nerves around each other, compressing them so much that they look like a single, thin strand as they descend to the next level. I don't know how many nerves are involved, but on my MRI it looks like quite a few. And these are not the only "pinched" nerve roots in my spine -- there are many others, and all cause pain not just in my spine but throughout my body, because compressed nerve roots almost always cause "referred" pain that can feel like hot coals, a hornet sting, a toothache, a dagger, pins and needles, a broken bone, a cramp, or nearly anything else -- you cannot predict how, where, or when spinal nerve root pain will manifest, at any given moment.

    Anything that touches my back at the L2 vertebra level -- including my clothes and the back of a chair -- will cause extra pain because it apparently causes the L2 vertebra to move and this puts even more pressure on those twisted cauda equina nerves.
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Being open and honest is never offensive.
    Keep opening doors!
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • Being open and honest is never offensive.
    Keep opening doors!
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • MetalneckMetalneck Island of Misfit toysPosts: 1,364
    Simple - When you have an open compond tibia fibula fracture ...... your going to need an open reduction of the fractures ..... screws and plates .... casting ....... AND at least one CRUTCH -

    Very appropriate treatment for malady-injury - In our situations these medications are used and needed due to the chronic nature - continued degenerative nature and relentless painful nature of our injuries and/or disease.

    Spine-health Moderator
    Welcome to Spine-Health  Please read the linked guidelines!!

  • Well said Metalneck!
    Kirsti x
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