1037827 tn?1253013947

Alternatives to Narcotic Pain Management

I posted this on the Addiction site and didn't receive a lot of responses so I thought I would try here.

When I was injured back in 2002 I ruptured every disc between L1 & S1 and because of work comp it was approximately 2 years before I actually got to see a doctor that knew what he was talking about. I now have degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, spondylosis between L1 & L2, and a slight curvature of my spine. My Dr and I have discussed a spinal fusion - what he calls a Level 4 fusion that involves two 12" titanium rods and twelve 2" titanium screws. I would never be able to tie my own shoes of bend forward more than 5 degrees - I'll live with the pain thank you. I am taking only enough MS to keep the edge off the pain (90mg to 120mg a day) and according to my Dr should be taking between 2 and 3 times as much to really control the pain. We have even discussed implanting a morphine pump, but I would rather not. On a pain scale of 1 to 10 I stay between a 6 to 7 constantly. I have tried tapering off and got down to 45mg a day, but the pain was too intense and left me unable to function at all with my mobility severely restricted. I am addicted/severely dependent to/on the drug to make it through each day and would like to find a non-narcotic that can take the place of the morphine if such an animal exists. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated - Thanks
10 Responses
547368 tn?1440541785
Hello FIXM,

Welcome to the Pain Mangement Forum. I am sorry to hear about your painful condition.

I know that you probably feel like an addict because of the narcotics you require to keep your pain at bay but you are not. Your body may be dependant upon the narcotics but that does not make one an addict. An addict exhibits drug seeking behavior, takes more narcotics than are prescribed and often doesn't even need them for pain. That is a short explanation without details but I hope it gets my point across that you are not an addict. The Substance Abuse Forum in all probability recognized that fact and that may be the reason you did not receive a lot of responses.

I admire your courage and strength. On the pain scale I too live with a 6-7 on a daily basis. Often my pain will reach an 8 and on occasion a 9 or 10. So I know what you are talking about, many of us do.

I do not know of any non-narcotic medication or alternative that will control to any degree severe chronic pain such as yours. There is acupuncture, TENS Unit, bio-feedback and similar treatments but they are normally enough to control severe pain without the addition of narcotics.

My PCP is a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) that performs bi-weekly SI Joint manipulations, without them I could not function, even with the narcotics.  I beleive that these manipulations (along with my stubbornness) keep my narcotic usage/need at a minimum. But alone they would not maintain my ability to function. You may want to seek out a D.O. for an evaluation and consult. No they are not like seeing a chiropractor.

I wish I could offer you better suggestions. And I wish there was "such an animal" a magic non-narcotic pill that would take our pain away and make our lives easier, unfortunately until medical science advances you are dependant on narcotics to function. Dependant, not addicted.

Please stay with us and become an active member of our community. Many find that sharing their painful daily challenges with others who "get it" is helpful. I am sorry for your pain and the choices and challenges that you face. Please keep in touch and share with us how you are doing. We care.

Take Care,


1040369 tn?1253151414
I would tell you this bro, you probably already know. I hear good things about Fenantyl (I have not tried it). BUT I tell you from my experience what to avoid - STAY AWAY FROM METHADONE.
1040369 tn?1253151414
By the way I didnt know if you were a man or woman as my grapics arent loading on this pc so i cant see yer pic yet.

Avatar universal
I commend you for looking for alternatives and really would like to watch this thread.  I am someone who suffers incredible pain.  I am also a person who has battled addiction that stemmed from trying to manage that pain.  I know I can't go on forever on narcotics and I also know my chronic pain is going no where.  There must be alternatives and I hope to get some suggestions as well.
Thank you for this post.
1037827 tn?1253013947
Thanks for the responses. I do know to avoid methadone and have turned down offers by my Dr to switch to oxycontin.

I am sure that all of you can relate to where I am coming from when I say that I am absolutely bored to tears.

Once I got my pain to a manageable point I thought well now I can read, watch tv, fool with my guns, fish, and so on, but as much as I hate to say it I am tired of all of it and would really like to go back to work. The problem is that I am a professional truck driver who used to run through 48 States and Canada and the DOT will not let me drive while I have a class A narcotic in my system - hence my search for an alternative pain-killer. Several friends have recommended Ultram - aka tramadol - and I was wondering if anyone had any success with this for controlling pain?

I use a TENS units big brother called a NMSD (Neuro Muscular Stimulation Device) that works absolute wonders once I get the pads on and the device dialed it. In fact the relief is so great that I usually end up falling asleep. The downside is that the charge only lasts for a bit less than 2 hrs and it takes 3.5 hrs to charge. I also do a lot of meditation during the day to control breakthrough pain and especially at night to help me sleep. Anyway I will continue my search and will check back from time to time. Thanks again - F
775302 tn?1253100505
Ultram is an option but I personally don't beleive that it even comes close to giving you the kind of relief you would need to drive a Semi at even short distances, My husband is a truck driver and even the Ultram will show up in a urine test, especially if your employers don't know you are on it. I wish I had more hope for you or better suggestions, All I can say is you are not alone and I'm glad you found this site. I don't beleive the abuse and addiction site was the right place for you, you have a dependence for an actual reason not an addiction for the reason of getting high. I hope you can understand the difference. The addiction site is great for those who need it and this site is great for those who need this, there really is a difference

Take Care
547368 tn?1440541785
Tramadol is not a narcotic but if functions much like morphine. I have tried it and it did nothing for my pain. Everyone is different and it may work for you. Before you make the switch I would investigate if it is an allowable drug through DOT.

It metabolizes much like morphine and as I said is not a narcotic but be sure that the DOT will not consider it a medication that will effect your ability to drive. It also have addictive qualities.

Hope this information helps.
Avatar universal
Tramadol/Ultram - I can only speak form my own personal experience, but here it is. My average pain level is a 5-6 and I tried taking Ultram for a while to "flush" my body of narcotics. This provided some muscular/nerve pain relief until it caused me to have a seizure this past summer. What they don't tell you about Ultram is that it lowers one's overall threshold for seizures, and the combination of this medication (all I was taking) coupled with the stress and sleep deprivation at the time caused me to have a seizure. So if you do end up trying Ultram, please be VERY careful and check all drug-interactions with all of your other meds first. Anything that messes with the brain (anti-depressants, anti-seizure, etc...) will increase the risk for seizures when taking Ultram. I haven't used Narcotics in over 8 months, but quite honestly I have received no pain relief even worth writing about in the meantime.

Suboxone - I tried using Suboxone not for addiction (never had that problem myself) but simply because my Dr. asked me to try it for pain management itself (it is a narcotic/anti-narcotic combo). Unfortunately the pain relief is not only minimal, but lasts but an hour or two with each dose. However, if you are looking to go off of narcotics, I will say that Suboxone works wonders from the standpoint of lessening withdrawal symptoms by 90% or more.

Hope this helps, and good luck to everyone.  Stay strong...
Avatar universal
I had this surgery. I don't have the rods but all the other hardware. It's a rough surgery but if you have a good surgeon it can be done well. I too have the stenosis and had pretty much the low back fused. I need pain meds daily and stil have pain but it's manageable. They wanted me to have the pain pump but I would have to be pretty bad to have that done. I've heard so many stories of infection and numerous other problems as a result of it so it's not for me.  If you can try pain meds first. I also use a fabulous topical cream. It's Nutra Ultra MSM Cream. You can get it from VitaminShoppe.com. I put it on my low back, feet and hands. I've recommended it to about 20 people now and have not had one person not love it.
I like you want to function. I don't want to be sedated so if I have a little pain I will deal with that. If you are going to avoid the surgery I admire that. Try to stay active, water therapy is very good, warm water light walking would be excellent.  I lost feeling in my legs and had so much leg pain and numbness I opted for the surgery.  
I have heard people use medical marijuana for pain. It's not for me but that might be another option and with your pain you'd be a candidate.  
There is a supplement calld DLPA, there are studies saying its excellent for pain.  Do a search on it and see what you think. I would also start taking B12, CQ12, Fish Oil and drink a ton of water. All great lubricants for the body and they help so many things in our body.
I wish you the very best, I know your pain and it's not easy so take it easy and be good to yourself.  I admire your plan to do it without pain meds.
198154 tn?1337787265
Tramadol/Ultram does nothing for my pain.
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