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Neck Pain/Tramadol or Xanax?
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Neck Pain/Tramadol or Xanax?

Hello Everyone.  I have had neck pain for about two years now. It is always on my right side, at the base of my skull/top of my neck.  Sometimes accompanied by a headache in my right temple, sometimes not.  The pain feels like muscle pain, in that it feels better (for just a few minutes!) after I or someone else rubs my neck.  I've been to a chiropractor and that helps for a bit (less than a day) and then the pain comes back.  I can't turn my head to the right or tilt it to the right too much without it hurting (kind of like a crick in the neck after you sleep wrong, except ALL the time).  I've been to my family doctor and he has prescribed different muscle relaxers, but all of them made me sleepy and I needed something to function during  the day.  So I've been taking Tramadol for about a year to a year in a half.  I started off taking about 4 pills a day (200mg) and am now taking 8 pills a day (400 mg) which is the max he told me to take.  The tramadol was working perfectly for about a year now and then all of a sudden within the past week or so, they don't work anymore. When I take them, I get NO relief.  I'm too scared to take any more, because I'm also on Lexapro and there is a risk of seritonin syndrome.  Sometimes I take one of my husband's Xanax's and that helps because it "loosens" me up a bit, but not like a high, just takes the pain/stiffness away.  Has anyone ever heard of taking Xanax for pain relief?  I just need something to releive the pain and stiffness without making me sleepy during the day. I just thought it was stress/tension but now I wonder if there's something more. Also, has anyone ever experienced the same type of pain, always on the same side in the same spot?
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15 Comments Post a Comment
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356518_tn?1322267242
Hi,
  I am sorry your in so much pain. I want to point out first that it is never a good idea to take anyone else's prescription medication. Especially when you take several as there can be interactions that are very dangerous.
I do know that Xanax is used for pain but you need to ask your Doctor if it is safe for you with the other medications. It sounds like you have built up a tolerence to the Tramodol and you need a different medication for the pain.
Have you had any test done such as xrays or an MRI to diagnose the problem?
My Sister has the symptoms you describe and she has some nerve damage in her neck. Have you had a nerve conduction study done?
What are you being treated for?
I do hope you get some relief soon as it sounds like your in real pain.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi jen,

First, I want to welcome you to the Pain Management Forum and let you know that we are glad you found this Forum. I want to let you know that there are NO Doctors on this Forum, only CP  {Chronic Pain}  Patients that help each other with our OWN expertise and experiences that we have developed through our OWN CP Issues.

I want to say a SPECIAL welcome to you as I notice that you are from Yukon, OK.  I was born and raised in Tulsa. :)   Now I live in AZ BUT I LOVE Oklahoma!!  :)

I'm sorry that you are going through this pain with your neck/skull/temple pain!!  You need to be checked out by your Doctor as Sandee1818 suggested and get some X-rays, MRI's done and get a diagnosis for this.  

I'm pretty sure that you have become intolerant to the Tramadol.  After you've been on a medication for such a long period of time we will ALL become intolerant of our medications and have to change them periodically.  It's just a fact of PM {Pain Management}.

Are you having any problems with your arms or your hands, such as tingling in your finger tips OR pain in your arms of any type?  Sometimes that can be conducive to nerve damage in your neck as that is what's happening to me because of bulging discs in my neck.

Have you EVER had a migraine study done?  That's ALWAYS a possibility.  Just trying to come up with any suggestions that you haven't tried as yet.

PLEASE let us know what you find out.

I'll be looking for your updates................Sherry  :)

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Avatar_m_tn
HI JEN,
     THE TRAMADOL IS A MILD PAIN KILLER AND THE XANAX IS FOR ANXIETY.  IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE JUST BUILT UP A TOLLERANCE FOR YOUR MEDS WHICH WILL HAPPEN WITH ALMOST EVERYTHING BUT XANAX DOES NOT WORK FOR PAIN AND YOU NEED TO BE CAREFULL TAKING SOMEONE ELSES SCRIPTS, BUT THE XANAX PROLLY JUST RELAXED YOU SO MUCH YOU THOUGHT IT HELPED SINCE YOUR BODY DOESNT NEED THE XANAX.  YOU MITE WANNA TALK TO YOUR DOC nd hVWE HIM UP UR DOSE OR EVEN PROLLY BETTER CHANGE YOU MEDS SINCE U HAVE BUILT UP A TOLLERANCE.  HOPE THIS HELPS
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Avatar_m_tn
Tramadol is a good general pain med. But the underlying cause of your neck pain needs to be identified. It could be radiculopathy, myofascial pain syndrome, occipital nerve issues, etc. Proper diagnosis will involve some imaging studies, and possibly other tests. The diagnosis will help identify which meds as well as other modalities like physical therapy, injections, or even surgery will help minimize/eliminate your pain.
Hope you'll get your primary care physician to refer to you a specialist who can work out what's going on and how best to address it.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thank you all for your responses.  My doctor did recommend an MRI, but there is a $750 deductible due at the time the MRI is done, and that's a little out of my price range right now! :(  I am going to make another appointment to see if there are any other tests that can be done that aren't as expensive and talk to him about changing meds. The sad thing is that I've tried pretty much every type of muscle relaxer there is and my Dr seems unwilling to prescribe any pain meds stronger than Tramadol because he's worried about addiction, which I understand, but doesn't really help me any! :(  Now I know why there are support groups for this, it's pretty frustrating!  Thanks everyone for trying to help.
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1624635_tn?1302361938
Try some Gabapentin. I had neck problems for years and this drug works great for nerve pain and it also used for mild pain. It also kinda makes you feel good and does not knock you out
Good luck
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1035252_tn?1371343440
Xanex can be a good muscle relaxer but it also has all sorts of risks involved (addiction, rebound headaches)...I used it as an anxiety med/muscle relaxer and it was OK but can become quickly addictive and can be dangerous to stop if you take it regularly. I preferred lorazepam though, which is in the same family (they're both benzos, all of which are primarily anxiety medications but are sometimes off-labeled as muscle relaxers...valium (diazepam) is another in the family that is 50/50 prescribed for anxiety and muscle relaxation.). Have you tried lorazepam? it has fewer side effects than xanax (alprazolam).

Truthfully, your doctor is misleading you. Tramadol is addictive as well, and if you've taken it as long and as frequently as you say, chances are you are physically dependent upon it now. YOu may want to have a frank discussion with him (you can even get proof from a pharmacist by talking to them about the addiction risks of tramadol) and say that if you're already on an addictive substance and are running that risk in order to get pain relief, at the least you should receive adequate pain relief. I personally think it's ridiculous when doctors prescribe Ultram for long-term pain management as an alternative to a mild narcotic...while I'm not the biggest fan of narcotics in the world, they at least don't raise your seizure risk like Tramadol does and they're equally at risk for addiction with Tramadol.

Anyway, I digress. just have a heart-to-heart with your doctor. Tramadol IS physically addictive, so if his concern is to not have you on an addictive medication, that ship has already sailed.
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1035252_tn?1371343440
bleah sorry I've had a rough weekend so I'm tired...in that 2nd paragraph I meant to say "while I'm not the biggest fan in the world of narcotics.." and later I meant to say "tramadol and narcotics are equally risky when it comes to addiction, and if you don't display addictive behaviors with tramadol I would guess you have a fair chance of being able to take the milder narcotics without a problem". I've been prescribed tramadol in the past and I HATE it.
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356518_tn?1322267242
There are many Doctor's that assume Tramadol is not addictive. They could take a look at the SA community here and they would think differently. There are a great many that become addicted to it. When you take any drug narcotic or not your body becomes accustomed to it and you will get withdrawal symptoms when stopping it.
If the Tramadol isn't working any longer then it is time to discuss other options. I would talk to your Doctor and explain that you do need some pain relief and ask him/her what option he/she can offer you. If there are no other options they are willing to offer it may be time to get a second opinion. I am sorry if you have mentioned it but are you seeing a PMP?
I suggest you do if your not already.
Also check around your area for MRi cost. Here in Florida you can get an MRI for as low as 300 dollars.
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Avatar_f_tn
Dogmanthing, I have tried Gabapentin. It did absolutely nothing for me. This may sound weird, but very few pain meds have any effect on me. OTC pain meds are like taking nothing, as are most everything in the muscle relaxer catagory (either that or they completely knock me out - weird, I know) and everything in the Rx anti-inflamatory category  and other meds like Gabapentin and even Lortab has no effect on me. (at least in the doses my Dr prescribed).  Sandee, I am seeing a Primary Care Physician, he's my family doctor. I know I probably need a 2nd opinion. I am a stay at home mom, so money is a little tight so I try to go to the Dr as infrequently as possible. Even copays get expensive when you have frequent visits! I probably should see someone else though. What kind of doctor should I go see though? Another Primary Care Dr or some type of specialist?  If so, what kind?  I agree with you Ashelen (pretty name by the way!) that it seems kind of strange that he is OK with prescribing me Tramadol but not any other pain meds.He said that he's OK with me being on Tramadol because as far as pain killers go its relatively "benign" compared to others. I have tried Lortab, but it doesn't really do anything for me. That's why I tried my husband's Xanax that one time. I know that it's not a good idea to try other peoples prescriptions, but sometimes I just get so tired of this pain that I'd do ANYTHING to get rid of it, even when I know it's not necessarily the best idea. I have gone to a chiropractor who said that my X-rays showed I have lost the curve in my neck due to an old whiplash injury years ago. The accident was a few years before the pain started, but the chiro said whiplash can come back to bite you, but when I researched that online, I found that there is some question among Medical Doctors as to whether that's actually even a legitimate thing. And chiro adjustments didn't really help longer than a few hours either. Sometimes I feel like it's never going to get better and I'll just have to live with it forever, like I have for the past couple of years. Sorry to be a Negative Nellie. If anyone could give me suggestions as to what kind of Dr I should get a 2nd opinion from, that would be great.
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Avatar_f_tn
Sandee, when I first read your post asking me if I was seeing a PMP I read that as Primary Care Physician for some reason. I don't know what a PMP is?
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356518_tn?1322267242
I am sorry. PMP is Pain management physician:)
PCP/ Primary care physician.
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Avatar_f_tn
Oh DUH! :) Thanks for clearning that up. I am going to try to find a PM Doctor on my insurance and get a 2nd opinion. In the meantime, I think I'm going to try some type of Zanax or Adavan.  I'm willing to try anything at this point!  Thanks everyone for their responses.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi Jen, I notice this post is from 2011. I am suffering from about the same thing; severe neck pain that also goes up to half of my skull...I had an MRI & my diagnosis is a "cervical(neck) herniated disc C4 through C6. I have been dealing with this for at least 2 & 1/2 years now...doctors trying to give me generic forms of relaxers & pain meds which just made me sick after a while & super crabby....they are not good for you but the doctors are scared to describe certain better meds. Anyways I am not sure where you live but I am in Orange County California. One of my girlfriends is a walking miracle. She told me that a doctor named Dr. Thomp in Rancho Santa Margarita Ca saved her life literaly. I am getting ready to finally have a consul with him for my herniated discs. He is a wellness doctor & he is 1 in 200 in the country. He put my friends discs back into place in one sitting & let her heal for a year. She had 3 hern.discs. & 3fractured vertebraes from getting in a car accident & flew out of the car. She was going to wear a halo....Dr. Thomp saved her life. She is now a hair stylist, had a baby & got married. He does careful slight manipulation with infrared heated xrays....your neck aligns your whole body so even if it is not your neck & it is another part of the body, your neck still needs to be aligned so that your whole body can start to heal. Regular doctors are going to give you meds or surgery or not know what to do after all the therapy is exhausted....I can barely hold my neck up & guess what I too agree that only xanex takes away my pain...& I have more of that then anxiety. I don't take it everyday but as needed & it is night & day difference. Although meds are good cover ups I know they are not the solution that is why I am going to see a wellness doctor as I have told my orthopedic to get some real help so I don't have to live this way for the rest of my life. I hope you feel better. My injury before being herniated, started off with a pinched nerve in my right side of the neck then went down my arm to my hands. It felt like my arm was broken & I could not write at work anymore. At first I went to a wellness chiroprater & with one adjustment without touching my arm my pain all over was gone but only for so long as I kept up with the same tasks at work which kept putting me in pain. Hope this helps you & some others out their. I am still trying to find a medical reason why xanex helps so much in relieving the pain in my neck & so many other people I know that have been in accidents besides relaxing you. I won't take pain medicine unless I have to because the next day I am tighter all over & they make me sick. Take care, Michelle
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Avatar_m_tn
First, if I was you I'd have an orthopedic doctor take some xrays of your neck to make sure that the bones there are okay. If there is issue there have neck therapy. It works. Second, if nothing truly wrong with neck bones it could be just stress and bad posture. Learn coping skills, and learn how to breathe properly (abdominal, not chesty breathing) and learn what is good posture and apply it. I myself have fibromyalgia and Xanax helps the pain I have with that and my neck pain(3 vertebrae with spurs and arthritis). I hold my stress in my neck and back which doesn't help.Therapy really helped when I went. The thing about Xanax is that it can be highly addictive so only use a half a pill before bed for a good nights sleep and you'll wake up feeling refreshed. You NEVER want to take a lot or drink alcohol with Xanax. You WILL regret it down the road!
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