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Requesting muscle relaxer 1 year after surgery looked down upon?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Pain Medications
:H I am just looking for some reassurance here I guess. I have a spinal cord stimulator in my back after a failed back surgery syndrome of L5-S1 fusion with rods and screws.

The stimulator helps, and I'm also on Kadian and neurontin. I have a lot of cramps and spasms in my back muscles though, and there's not much I can do for it. The stimulator makes the muscles stay in almost a constant state of contraction when it's turned up.

How do I ask my PM Dr. for a muscle relaxer without looking like a seeker? Their prescription refill system works via voice mail. Call in, tell them the name of the drug you need a refill, all the info, etc, and they mail it or call it in. They don't contact you back.

I'm really worried that if I call and leave a message for the nurse, they will call me back and drill me wondering why I need this. I hate the stigma that comes with needing pain meds. ~X(

Anybody have any advice on how I should or could approach this with out looking a drug seeker?


  • :) hi! welcome to the forum! :H you don't say how long you have been on your current medication without a change. :? if it has been awhile i would not even give it a second thought and tell them just what you told us. it seems like a legitimate medical need and you a ASKING not demanding. suggestions work much better that an all out demand. you have dealt with doctors before. be honest and state what you could use as clearly as possible and why. i don't see you looking like anything put a pain patient with some increased pain. a muscle relaxer is different from pain medication and it sounds like you need one! good luck! Jenny :)
  • I am on Robaxin 750 mg, many muscle relaxants are non narcotic, so there wont be the problem with addiction, ask your PCP, if you see him/her b4 you see your surgeon. most doctors would want to see a person if its been more than 6 months since the last visit, anyway mine is. Hope you feel better soon. Rose
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  • As getfit mentioned, when the spinal cord stimulator is turned up, it causes muscles to spasm. The stimulator is only a pain control device. Many times, as with my situation, the underlying cause of the pain triggers muscle spasms continuously. I will forever be on anti-spasmotics or muscle relaxers. There are days where I have to suffer bad muscle spasms in my right shoulder because my hand hurts so bad I turn the stimulator up quite high. So it's a delicate balance.


    Welcome to Spine Health. I agree that the best course of action is to speak to your doc about it. If it is the doc who implanted the SCS, then he should be aware of the issue with the spasms.

    Let us know how it goes.

  • I would suggest, if you have a good relationship with your docs, to inform them that the current meds are handling the regular pain... heres the kicker statement.... bu, I am having an issue with breaktrough pain.

    I have found that using terminology with my dos that they understand (keywords), they have a tendency to help you a bit more. The words "breakthrough pain" are essential in the conversation.

    Best of wishes,

  • If the problem is persistent cramping and muscle spasms as stated in the first post, then that is different from breakthrough pain, therefore it wouldn't be wise, in my opinion, to ask for something for breakthrough pain. Personally I think you should call the office and leave a message to be contacted, as Paul suggested, and when they call just tell them exactly what you told us-that you're having problems with cramping and spasms due to the stimulator and would like to know if you can try a muscle relaxing med. I don't think this should make you look like a seeker at all.

    As Jenny said, you're not new to this, so I don't feel you have anything to worry about. They may want you to come in for an appt if it's been awhile since you've been seen, but that's pretty typical. It might even be a good thing because you can show them that you're really having these spasms by turning up the SCS!

    Definitely call and see what they say-but no, I wouldn't just leave a message on the refill line saying what you need-just let them know you have a question you need answered ASAP, and then be honest when you do talk to them. Easy-peasy! :D

    Good luck, and I hope you'll let us know how it goes!
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  • To answer the question as to what has changed, since I am 1 year post SCS implant, I have found that I need to turn up the stimulator higher. With that comes muscle cramping in my side and back. If I turn it down, I can't feel it and I have back pain.

    I haven't seen my Dr. for some time, last appt was in March. At that time, he said he would keep me on the meds I have been taking since I started seeing him in 2007.

    I have become more active, trying to get back into exercising and staying fit through spinning classes, and walking since April. My back has been hurting lately, the last few weeks or so, worse than before when I saw him in March, so as I said I need to turn up the SCS.

    I don't really know how to explain it to you. But that is what I was talking about, reactions like that one, when I have been trying to over come this and ignore it, but it ends up competing with my focus for work, happiness, and healthy state of mind. So, it reaches a point where you want help, but it's been some time since the implant so I figure the Dr, and nurses will look at me like I don't really need it.

    I do have break through pain as well, and I feel like I shouldn't because of the SCS. But I do, so I try my best to deal with it. It's very frustrating. I have these extended release pain pills, but they don't seem to help with the break through pain.. When I told them about it, they increased my prscription from 2x/day to 2 in the a.m. and 1 in the p.m. I rarely do that, but the last few weeks I have been taking the 2 in the evening a couple days a week,instead of the morning because I would like to be able to function at work. Most days I just take 1 in the a.m. and 1 in the p.m. My script always lasts me about 15 days past the normal refill period, so it's clear that I am not abusing my meds.

    I don't know, I will probably call and leave a message for the phone nurse to call me back. She will probably want to have me come in, which is fine, I just wish there was something to make it easier to deal with. It sucks to go from being athletic and active to not being able to run anymore and when you say you hurt or that you need something for pain, people, even those close to you, act like you just like to take the pills.

    Sorry for the frustration venting. If I get up the courage and decide to call the Dr. I will let everyone know what the outcome is.

    Thank you all again for you help. I really do appreciate it.

  • all i have ever done when calling is tell them on the machine i am having horrible spasms the reason why and if there is any med out there that can be given to help with the problem.
    since you seem uncomfortable asking for a certain muscle relaxer. most if not all are non narcotic so there should not be a problem.

    now question is the the stim helping you at all?? would also like to know for my friend as they are thinking about getting one. (their issue is though they are not a canidate for surgery of any type)
    i also had a failed back surgery. orginal was sept 07. the bone did not fuse.
    i just had a revision on the 17th of this month. because i refused to live in pain. he did give me the option of waiting a few more months but i had numbness and pain. so i did not want any more damage done.
    was it ever discussed to do the surgery over??? just curious. as i know every dr works different.

    let us know how you make out..
    good luck, docs are usually pretty good about muscle relaxers especially if your being treated for pain..

    take care
    terri >:D<
  • I probably will call on Monday. I guess there is no point in being the grouch that I am when I'm uncomfortable.

    The SCS does help. It gives a vibrating feeling in my back and the back of my leg. I have 4 different programs on it, so I can hit different areas depending how I am feeling. If it's mostly in my back, then I turn it to that program, but once I turn it up, that's when I get the spasms. If I had one on the other side I could give my obliques a good workout! :D

    Anyway, I would recommend it to someone who has chronic pain. It doesn't take all the pain away, for me anyway, I still have to be on pain meds, but it does really make it feel better. If I don't have to walk anywhere I can crank it up and feel better (except the muscle cramping. It's hard to walk if it's turned up high though because it makes my legs wobbily. I have to turn it down to sleep too because I feel it in my ribs and abs when I lay down, and who can sleep with those muscles contracted... All in all it was a good decision considering what I was feeling before I got it. It is surgery though, you're not put out completely. Just given some drug and you don't feel it or really remember it, but you are awake because they have to know if they have it in the right place.

    As for doing the surgery over, that was never mentioned. My surgeon said I had unrealistic expectations and that if I was 50% better than before the surgery it was a success. Thus the need for the SCS 2 years later. I couldn't focus I was in so much pain. I guess it's scar tissue that is the problems. The PM Dr. said they don't like to remove scar tissue because any time you have surgery you just get more, so it would just come back I guess. I don't know.
    I'm only 37 and was once fairly athletic and active, and now I'm an entirely different person. I have to find ways to get stronger because when I'm 80 I want to be active and doing things I don't want to be in nursing home in a wheelchair.

    Soooooo I will keep pressing on, keep working out, and keep trying to stay positive.

  • If it has been since March since you last saw your doc, then there's a big possibility you have developed a lot of scar tissue around your leads, causing you to need to turn the amplitude up higher. A quick look at the diagnostics with the doc's/rep's handheld unit will tell if something else may be going astray as well.

    Paul good point about a possible new developing issue. One thing though that I found, was that the first couple months I was afraid to turn the amplitude up as high as I really needed it. Kind of like having a fast car but being afraid to really take it out for a spin.

    A lead could have migrated a bit, an extension wire or lead started to go bad or even the generator malfunctioning on it's own. Either way, it's best to get it looked at.

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