Posted 1/4/2008 7:39 AM (GMT -7)
Crohnie - just a little bit of info for you.
There is a huge difference between withdrawal and tolerance. The same holds true with addiction versus dependence. Many chronic pain patients become dependent on their medications. Meaning - we need them to live as pain free as possible, we don't necessarily crave them - we use our pain medications the same way a diabetic uses insulin - it helps us to make it through a day. As you build up a tolerance to medication, and it varies from person to person how quickly this happens, they don't work as well as they used to. For some people this happens very quickly - in weeks - and for others (like me) I've been on the same medication amount for five years. Sometimes it's a simple as switching between medications that work for you, and other times it requires raises in the amount of medication you are taking.
Withdrawal symptoms happen when you drastically reduce, or stop the amount of pain mediation you were taking. Withdrawal happens in both people who have built up a dependence on the medication, and those who are addicted to it. Withdrawal can vary from person to person, but can involve hot and cold flashes, shakiness, headaches, runs to the bathroom, upset stomach, intense cravings, anger and depression. I'm sure there are other symptoms I haven't heard about as well. If you want more information on addiction versus tolerance/dependence it is a topic that has come up several times in this forum, feel free to do a search for it.
A few questions to ask yourself is are you taking more medication that you are prescribed? Do you NEED your next dosage - or do you mentally crave it? (Are you using it for pain control or do you just want it?) Is the medication that you have working for you?
If you start taking more medication than your doctor wrote for you - that is a problem. It will cause you to build up a tolerance much more quickly (in my opinion). If you are sticking with what you were wrote, and need more to help keep your pain under control - then bring that up with your doctor.
Another thing that you might want to remember is that the idea is to "manage" your pain. Very few chronic pain patients live pain free lives. My day to day living I'm at a five on the pain the scale. I live at a five pain level. Some patients live at a seven, others get it down to two or three, very few I feel actually manage to be pain free. You know how some people go "wow, I have a kill headache". I can remember each time in the past three years I've been pain free because, and so can my husband - because twice I've woke him up in the middle of the night in tears telling him "honey, I don't hurt, not anywhere".
If you are opting not to have surgery - and are going to be in pain for an extended period of time, you need to get in with a pain specialist - these are people that are trained to help you manage your pain.
"When we come to the edge of the light we know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, of one thing we can be sure; either God will provide something solid to stand on... or we will be taught to fly.'"
"Cause when push comes to shove You taste what you're made of, You might bend, till you break Cause its all you can take; On your knees you look up Decide you've had enough, You get mad you get strong Wipe your hands shake it off, Then you Stand" From "Stand" by Rascal Flatts
Dx.: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Ulcerlative Colitis, Chronic Inflammation of the Colon, Ruptured & Fused L4-L5-S1 w/pinched nerves, Degenerative Disc Disease, Chronic Costochondritis, Back Muscle Spasms, Asthma, Benign Tremmors (hands)