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My Introduction

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in New Member Introductions
My name is Ron and I stumbled across this site via Google in an attempt to find information as possible regarding weight gain as it relates to prescription narcotic pain medication. I recently learned that there is a definite correlation between the two. Does anyone here have any definitive data on this and would you be willing to share it?

I am a 58 year old Vietnam era veteran with a service connected spinal cord injury (SCI) at levels C-4, 5, 6. My official diagnoses is “incomplete quadriplegia” in addition to traumatic brain injury (TBI), diabetes mellitus responding to insulin only (well controlled via use of an insulin pump with Novolog fast acting human insulin. I also am blessed to have von Willebrand type IIa (a bleeding disorder severely exacerbated primarily by NSAIDs), and a neuromuscular disease called Polymyositis, which leaves me feeling as though I have the influenza day and night with lethargy and severe muscle aches akin to running a high fever. Additionally, I have been diagnosed with a second abdominal aorta aneurysm (AAA). The first was a left iliac artery aneurysm at the aorta bifurcation that was detected during a routine bone scan of my spine, February 28, 2002. That aneurysm was surgically repaired with a carbon impregnated graft on June 11, 2002. I also have been diagnosed with a malformation on the brain. I could continue on and on, but I’ll give it a rest here for the sake of brevity. Let me just say that I am rated at 100% service connected and certified “Total and Permanent with No Further Evaluations” by the VA.

I have been prescribed and am currently using the Fentanyl Duragesic patch up to 100 mcg for primary SCI pain control for roughly the past fifteen years following MS Contin, for many years, the first choice of the Department of Veterans Affairs. I am currently on the 50 mcg patch with changeover every 72 hrs., and oral Oxycodone 10mg PRN for breakthrough pain. This is the narcotic level that I feel most comfortable with so as to be able to function with a relatively clear head and without experiencing severe drowsiness. My overall pain is maintained at about level 3 on the WHO pain scale of 1 to 10. I maintain an active well engaged life at this level and am quite involved in community service.

I currently lobby the U.S. Congress on a number of issues for a number of organizations, including Paralyzed Veterans of America (I am a board director for the WV Chapter of PVA), and the American Diabetes Association, among others. I am the PVA Liaison for the Martinsburg VAMC, as well an active hospital volunteer. I am also active in my church, both locally, as well as serving in overseas missions.

While I am currently single (having been divorced 20 years ago), I am engaged to be wed to a beautiful friend of the same faith in S.E. Asia, on August 31, of this year. While I am dreading the long 22 hour flight each way, the end result will be well worth every mile and minute. While there, I will also be filming a short documentary of a specialized mission project for presentation within my church organization here in America, depicting a church re-building effort and documenting personal life testimonies of our brothers and sisters there.

Many who know me have often commented about my busy lifestyle, asking how it is that someone with my level of injury and medical conditions chooses, and is even able, to be so active and engaged particularly with extreme weakness and severe intractable SCI pain. My response: Cowardice! I can’t stand to remain still, what with high pain levels and constantly feeling like I have a severe case of influenza 24/7! By keeping busy I don’t have time to fret about how I feel, so I press on, and I find the rewards are so powerful that I just keep ticking like a Timex watch. 

Now that I have probably bored you silly, has anyone else learned of the weight gain attributed to long term use of narcotic pain medications? I understand that there are suggested vitamin/mineral supplements, as well as certain amino acids that, when taken in conjunction, have positive effects on the metabolism which can reverse the weight gain. I will be presenting questions to my physician at my next appointment on this topic, but I’m not holding my breath since I have been assigned to a VA dietician, but she maintains that a healthy diet and exercise regimen will do the trick over time, but after nearly starving myself and trying to hobble up and down the street in these leg braces daily for three years and still gaining slowly, it is quite apparent to me that that isn’t going to work for me. Anyone with knowledge about this phenomena?

Thank you!

Almost Heaven, Eastern Panhandle, WV


  • Welcome to spine-health,there has been some threads about weight gain and meds,most though from nerve meds like neurotin and lyrica,you should look over the pain medicine section,and there is a diet and weight loss section too...
  • Welcome aboard Ron. Wasn't bored with your intro at all. Good to hear your so active with all that you have going on health wise. I'm sorry I don't have an answer to your question.I also want to thank you for your Time served under Uncle Sam. I often feel that the Vietnam Vets are under appriciated. Although I was a navy man some of my best friends served in Nam. Just lost one recently to a heart attack. My wife has worked at the VA medical center here in Oregon for 18 yrs & loves her job.

    Take care
  • Ron,

    Welcome to Spine Health. As Glenn said, thank you for your personal sacrifice!!! Thank you for your never give in attitude! Rock ON!

    Congratulations on your engagement! I too make that long flight to Asia from the US and understand how much "fun" it is. Just kick back, relax and put some head phones on.

    As bigcat said, there's some discussion going on about the weight gain associated with narcotics in the Pain Management forum. You should be able to get some good info there.


  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. you are a bright light for sure and i feel blessed to have gotten to know you a bit. i have been on opioids for over 20 years and never had a weight problem untill i started taking Lyrica, a nerve pain medication. then i gained 20 pounds. i think you are going to find that some people do and some don't. good luck and i hope you find the answers you are looking for. your good works will be greatly rewarded. Jenny :)
  • Thanks for your response and welcome. Although I didn't list every medication I am presently taking, in addition to the narcotic pain-killers, I have been taking 300mg Neurontin three times a day for years. I have always been physically active, but with time and aging, in recent years, I have found it difficult to continue the one to two mile daily walks, especially in leg braces designed to resolve a drop-foot condition. I had experienced frequent falls and turned ankles in the past two years that finally resulted in a "Joe Thiseman" style break of both bones of the lower left leg. That led to my being braced. Because of other issues I have to be braced using the heavy stainless steel braces - permanently attached to orthopedic shoes. I will be parusing the Website and forums for weight gain data, as well as weight loss ideas.
  • Ron. You will be an inspiration to us all. And I too would like to thank you for all of your sacrifice! welcome to SH and I look forward to reading your posts.
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