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Resistance to pain medications?
10 Replies
Lee2010 - July 10

Hi everyone. I have an unusual situation and would love some feedback from anyone with a similar problem. As I wrote in a previous note, my pain is getting harder to live with. While a lot of people can find relief from pain meds, I get little or none at all. I've been diagnosed as being resistant to narcotic and non-narcotic pain medications. I have tried most of them, and my pain doc said that he's fairly sure that I will react the same way to any that I haven't tried since a lot of them are made with related ingredients. I have tried Vicodin, Norco, Dilaudid, Hydromorphone, Oxycontin, Ultram, Fentanyl patches (2 25mg patches at once), and a shot of morphine when I couldn't take it anymore while on a trip. I had zero relief with any of them. I came out of ankle surgery 2 years ago and was told that my foot would be pain-free and numb for about 5 hours - I had a high level of pain upon waking up. Bottom line from that surgery - the nurse didn't believe me. When I was finally diagnosed with this problem, so many things that had gone on in my life prior to the diagnosis made so much sense. I am about to have my 48th birthday and I feel like an old lady that was hit by a bus crossing the street. The fact that I can't get any relief whatsoever only adds to the frustration.

I am extremely fortunate because my husband and sons are supportive and do anything they can to make my life as stress-free as possible, and I can also say the same thing about all of my extended family and friends. I can honestly say that I don't get depressed because I know that I am so incredibly blessed. I do, however, experience moments of fear and quite a bit of frustration. I am powerless over this situation with my body that won't accept the relief that pain medications are there to provide. My biggest fear right now with regards to my FMS, and any medical issues that might arise in the future, is how will the medical community give me pain relief? I've had a larger single dose of the same drug given to a friend after his open-heart surgery. On comparing notes, he felt an amazing amount of relief from his pain - I couldn't even tell that I'd taken anything, and it was a larger dose!

I guess that what I'm trying to get to in all of this writing is this: does anyone out there have a similar problem, and if so, have you found a medication that worked for you? All that I'm looking for is pain relief. Everything else about my life is wonderful. I know that a lot of people experience depression among other things, but I truly do not have anything to be depressed about. I know how fortunate that I am and I won't let myself go to any dark places. It's a personal choice for me, and I've been lucky to be able to maintain it. I'm currently on high doses of Norco and Gabapentin - I don't really notice anything, but I take them anyway. I figure I'd be worse without them - at least it's something.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I am really hoping that someone out there can relate to my situation and will have an idea for me to try. If not, no worries. I'll keep researching and chatting with people and maybe one day something will show up. Until then, I will continue to be thankful for what I do have and try to concentrate on all the good that I have in my life. I know that so many of you have trials in your lives that I can't even begin to imagine living with. You all have my utmost respect for hanging in there and facing each day no matter how hard or what it brings you. Every single one of you is an amazing person. Thank you for the insights and support that you give all of us. I am looking forward to hearing from any one of you about my problem. Any new ideas will be very welcome. Thank you!


Noca - July 10

There is always a higher level of pain medication such as Opana/Opana ER or better yet Fentora/Actiq(strongest pain medication on earth) if you can get those prescribed. Or you could get a pain pump surgically implanted or something along those lines if your desperate enough.


Fantod - July 10

I use Curamin which is a spice for breakthough FMS pain. It was recommended to me by my nutritionist. It really helps and since it is non narcotic, you may find it useful. You can buy it in capsule form at any decent health food store. The manufacturer I use is Terry Naturally. It should also be available on the Internet.

I am extremely senistive to medication and have had all kinds of bad reactions to stuff that other people don't think twice about. And, I have had plenty of arguments with medical professionals about what I can not tolerate. I feel your frustration.

Another option for pain is a derivative of the pitcher plant called Sarapin. Again it is non narcotic and is very effective. I have had it injected to break a pain cycle involving trigger points in my lower back. My rheumy uses it as well as a physiatrist I know. You may have to find a holistic physician that uses it. I had very good results that lasted about 6 months. Sarapin can be injected repeatedly unlike a steriod like cortisone that causes tissue damage with long term use.

I hope that my suggestions are helpful to you. Take care and enjoy the rest of the weekend.


Lee2010 - July 13

Thank you for the ideas Noca and Fantod. I will definitely look into the things that you suggested. At this point I'll try anything. Had a really bad night of throbbing pain in my legs over the weekend. Used a heating pad turned pretty high and eventually was able to fall asleep. Coincidentally, earlier in the evening I had a drink of lemonade made with half Splenda which I never use. I'm wondering if that could have set me off. I have read on this sight that Aspartame and similar sweeteners can trigger symptoms. Not sure if such a small amount can do it, though. Just a thought. Anyway, thanks again for your suggestions. Will be looking into them with my doc. Take care and I hope you both have a good week.


Sonja44 - July 13

I have the opposite problem...I'm TOO sensitive to any medication...especially pain meds. I ended up in the ER once for taking 1/2 less the recommended dose of Tylenol 3 with Codeine.

I'm very cautious about any new medications and my Doc knows to tapper down dosages for me.

Either problem is frustrating to deal with...good luck to you.


Lee2010 - July 13

Hi Sonja44. Thanks for your note. I can't imagine ever being that sensitive to medications. Your situation is every bit as frustrating as mine. I'm so sorry that you ended up in the ER - that must have been terrifying. Hang in there - maybe someday we'll both find the perfect answer to each of our situations.


Fantod - July 13

If you noticed an increase in pain after ingesting Splenda that I would say that was the cause. Most people with FMS have chemical sensitivities. Artifical sweetners should be avoided like the plague. Lunchmeat, wine (nitrates) and deep fried foods are also potential pain triggers. If you need a sweetner use something made from the nontoxic Stevia plant. You can find Truvia or Sun Crystals right next to the other sweetners in the grocery store.

Is medical marijuana legal wherever you live? That would be another option for pain management. It can be made into capsules if you prefer not to smoke. I can give you the recipe.
Even if you just used it at night to help you sleep, your pain levels would probably improve. Take care.


kvc33 - July 13

There are many medications that can be used to treat pain even though that is not their primary purpose. Low dose antidepressants are used to treat pain because they raise the levels of serotonin in the brain and therefore change a person's experience of their pain. You could also try a med that raises dopamine such as the one I take for Restless Leg Syndrome called ropinerole (Requip). You might want to try alternative methods such as biofeedback or meditation. See a naturopath and get tested for food and chemical sensitivities too. It would help if we knew what kind of pain you are dealing with. Is it aching, sharp, stabbing, all over your body or mostly in some areas? Do you have numbness, tingling, headaches? There is a condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy that is highly resistant to pain meds and is now being treated (in some countries) with ketamine which is an anethestic and pain killer that is often used in veterinary medicine. I know a woman who went to Mexico and was put under for days with this med to treat her pain and it worked. You could try acupuncture or hypnosis too.


Lee2010 - July 16

Hi again everyone. kvc33 answered my post and said that it might help if you knew what kind of pain I was experiencing. It varies day to day as I'm sure that it does for all of you. In my hips it is mostly a sharp, stabbing pain upon standing up or walking. In my thighs and legs in general, it's usually a throbbing pain that makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes. The other pains that I experience all over my body tend to be dull aches with the occasional sharp pain. I am a migraine sufferer, but with all of the meds that I'm on, the pain has pretty much gone away and all I usually get now are the auras (and I'm thankful for that blessing every day!). I have tried acupuncture and it didn't do a single thing for me. I have also had deep tissue massage, but when my trigger points are hit, I end up in tears and do not feel any relief after I'm finished. I also have a strange kind of electrical pulsating sensation - almost like my legs or feet are "buzzing". It's really hard to describe, but it's very weird. I have had steroid shots in my ankle and my spine. The shot in my spine took my hip pain away for almost exactly three months, so I know that it does offer temporary relief, but I'm not willing to pay the kind of money that it would take to continue having thenm. I am also extremely scared of having too much intervention around my spine. An acquaintance of mine had bad back pain and had several of the pain pumps implanted over the course of several years (she would get infections, etc., and need to replace them periodically). When she decided to have the most recent one put in a year or two ago, something went seriously wrong, and she ended up permanently paralyzed from the waist down. It became routine enough for her that I guess she lost the sense of worry. So I am going to try to stay away from anything regarding my spinal cord for as long as I possibly can - preferably forever. So, that's a quick and very un-detailed description of my pain. Some days my aches and pains just can't be pinpointed or described, so this is the best that I can do.

Thanks again for taking the time to read my posts and answer them. I know that all of you have busy lives and I so appreciate you giving up some of your free time to give me such wonderful ideas and insights. Bless you guys and have a great Friday and wonderful weekend! :-)


freda - January 27

Lee: I totally get what you are saying about being "resistant to pain medication or other".I was diagnosed last year with "migraine encephelopathy" and that basically means that I do NOT respond to medications eg.migraine meds, anti-inflamm,anti-epileptic,and pain killers or preventatives.After 30 years of trying to solve my pain problem this diagnoses was made last year which explains aLOT.The pain is there every day and I manage it with out any medication BUT when the pain gets out of control I am left to go to emerg so they can give me intervenus Pethedine or demerol to alleviate some of the pain.Then I go home and start all over again.I am being sent to Toronto soon for a "pain management program" so that I can hopefully be able to manage this pain at home and live a better life....The million dollar question is WHAT is going to work??Perhaps on top of having chronic pain without successful treatment I could also be medication resistant, as I have not been able to find anything successful to manage this pain.I do feel your frustration.I get depressed at times because I can not participate in family activities and doing things in the day make this condition worse so I am limited most of the time.I have to know my limitations as this is a hard thing to learn and I am 51 had these migraines since I was 12.I do feel your frustration and pain!! Freda.


January - February 2

Freda - has anyone tried to find the cause of your migraines? I ask because sometimes migraines are due to food allergies or low grade infections that can be treated. One place doctors never look is your teeth. I had severe right-sided migraines for years - they started suddenly, after some very invasive dental work done in my early 20s. I never knew I had a problem, but decades later I needed surgery to clean out my badly-done old root canals which were infected. My right-sided migraines disappeared! I still get an occasional headache with weather changes, but nothing like before.

I sympathize with all your years of suffering, and hope you can find something that eases your pain.



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