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Pain Killer Alternative

I have been asked by my boss to find a non-addictive pain killer(s) sufficient for severe chronic non-malignant pain.  

After reading through a few forums, especially helpful one from 2001 --http://www.medhelp.org/forums/addiction/messages/30733.html --

it appears that there are really no viable alternatives to narcotics for effective severe chronic pain control.  Ultram was discussed in the 2001 forum as the best alternative (which I know was a while ago ... many new medications may now be available).  NSAIDS were portrayed as leading to stomach problems.

I am not a doctor or nurse (nor expected to be), but my boss wanted some alternatives to present to the doctor this week.  

The background:  Her daughter has had two surgeries in the past two years, which have resulted in severe open wounds from the surgeries that have had a hard time healing (I don't really want to get hung up on why these wounds are not healing).  So Percocet and Vicoden have been presribed in pretty high strengths (I don't have those numbers to share).  The daughter is 21 years old.  She becomes mean on the Vicoden and doesn't like the Perocet, because she is also a student at college, and cannot function too well on the Percocet.  The mother is concerned that the daughter now has a physical dependence on the Vicoden (maybe Percocet too), as the daughter has been using both now for 1-1/2 years; the mother is unsure if actual addiction (emotional, taking the drug for a "high") has resulted; but physical dependence is pretty much a given now.  Other pain-management tools are being considered, as well as options to heal the open wound.  But for now, my question is strictly narrowed to:  are there any viable alternative(s) to narcotics for effective pain control for moderate to severe pain?  If not, what are better alternatives to the Vicoden and Percocet?  We know that we will have to deal with withdrawal issues, too.  Really appreciate your responses.  I have a great respect for the people in this forum, as I have spent the last 2 hours reading through various discussions.  Thanks!
50 Responses
271792 tn?1334983257
Hello! Glad to see you posted.

I suffer with chronic pain, as you will see many people in here do. I took pain meds for nine years and became addicted to them. I recently stopped. I have been prescribed a medication called "Naproxen" 500mg tablets, to be taken twice a day. It is non-narcotic. From what I have read, it takes several weeks to get into the system and begin to work. Since I just started it on Friday, I am not there yet. However, I am hopeful. I am also contacting a woman in my area who is a "nutritionalist". She uses herbal supplements and specific exercies for pain management. Again, I have not talked with her as of yet.

I don't know that I have been much help, but others will post and tell you what they are doing for pain relief.

Also, when, and if, addiction from the pain meds becomes an issue, please come back and post about that. You will find several treatment options as well.

Good Luck and keep posting.

Avatar universal
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond.  I have added Naproxen to my list of alternatives to be researched.  In the 2001 post discussing pain killer alternatives, Naproxen was discussed and dismissed by some who were concerned about stomach issues.  But again, that may just be a potential side effect (like all medications have side effects).  

Would you mind me asking what pain medications you were on?  I'm just wondering if Naproxen is sufficient for severe pain.  As stated, the daughter has an open wound.  From what I heard, someone who was a doctor (not the prescribing doctor) looked at the strength of the prescription and was awed by how high it was, but then also commented they had never performed the type of surgery that the daughter experienced (thus inferring the strength may be appropriate for the need).  The  wound is very deep and in a place that can tear open easily.  So the mother is caught in a catch 22 ... concerned about physical dependence and possible addiction but knowing that the daughter has to have something to deal with the very real pain she experiences.  
Avatar universal
I didn't mention that the daughter has been diagnosed with ADHD, and is under treatment for that as well.  The below states that some preparations of Naproxen are not recommended for use in patients with hypertension:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naproxen

Naproxen – Also like other NSAIDs, naproxen can inhibit the excretion of sodium and lithium. Extreme care must be taken by those who use this drug along with lithium supplements. Naproxen is also not recommended for use with NSAIDs of the salicylate family (drugs may reduce each other's effects), nor with anticoagulants (may increase risk of bleeding). Certain preparations of naproxen are not recommended for use in patients with hypertension, as they contain sodium, potentially worsening the effects of hypertension, in the very small subset of people who exhibit sodium-sensitive hypertension.
Avatar universal
I believe Naproxen is an anti-inflamatory - that's how it helps with pain.  But I would double check this (i.e. google.)  :)

Every med is different.  Personally, I could not take Naproxen, it made me sick.  

And I know you didn't ask me this, but if you want any additional info, I tried Cymbalta, Neurontin (not very long tho,) Naproxen, Fleveril (muscle relaxant,) Aleve/Advil, and Norco - which is what I ultimately got addicted to.  And - btw - was the only thing that worked when the pain was SEVERE.
271792 tn?1334983257
Thank you for your post on Naproxen. As you mentioned, it have side effects, as most medications do.

I was taking Vicoden, Percocet and Oxycotin toward the end. I hade surgery, every therapy you can think of, epidural injections, steroid injections, and accupuncture. Some of these treatments worked for a realtively short period of time. The pain meds worked earlier on, but after years of use they stopped working as my tolerance built.

I also take "Soma", which is a muscle relaxer. Also non-narcotic. I wish I could be of more help, unfortunately, it has only been a short time that I am seeking non-narcotic alternative medications, so I am not well versed. There is a young lady who frequents this forum "FLaddict". She would be a good person to speak with. She is very helpful and does a lot of research. Keep an eye out for her.

Again, thank you. Hope you find the help you are looking for.
256169 tn?1191688915
With the type of injuries you describe she should feel NO shame nor any guilt, nor should her mother worry more about a "possible" problem with pills than the pain her daughter is now suffering......There are NO OTC meds that can really help the pain from such open wounds.  Good luck.

To get the details straight, you mean your boss has asked you to research alternatives for her/his daughter.....I have never heard of anyone getting "mean" on Vicoden, but ....I don't know everything.  Perhaps the daughter does have a physical dependance but that is not necesarily evil...She darn sure needs something for her pain......Perhaps your boss is a bit judgemental, based on incomplete information and predjudices.

Your boss perhaps needs to open her mind to the possibilities that these meds are "helping" and not necessarily hurting the daughter....She may be physically addicted but not necessarily psychologically.....Ask your boss, if the daughter is taking more than the prescribed dosage.....It would be hard to do this with your boss, but it might help if the boss "lightened up" on the guilt and shame thing and concentrated on helping the daughter with the pain......
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