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I have been taking pain meds since last August for chronic pain due to several bulging and one hernated disc. I origianlly started taking 1 vicodin 5/500 (5 mg of hydrocodone to 500mg of tylenol)every six hours. I was down to one vicodin per day a couple months ago but then had to get back on it because I re-injured the discs from coughing during a bad chest cold. I also had to increase to Lortab 10/500 10mg hydrocodone to 500 mg tylenol) because the vicodin wasn't working as well for me. The dose was 1-2 lortab every six to eight hours. I never took more than one lortab at a time. I was taking 2-3 lortab per 24 hour period for pain for about a week and a half while waiting for an injection. I recently had an injection and initially had strong pain afterwards and the nurse told me I could take one every 4 hours. I did this for two days and then on the third day I started taking it 5 hours and then increased to one every six hours. My hubby says he thinks I should taper off over a two week time frame. He says this because he doesn't know how "addicted" I am. I know when I took plain vicodin 5/500 I tapered off from 4 a day to 3 a day and then 2 a day and also cut it in half and stayed on the half dose for a few days before finally tapering off but still needed about one per day for pain in the evening. I wonder how to do it with lortab because it's twice the strength. Can anyone with info have any ideas for me. I don't think it will take me 2 weeks. I was planning on going down from 4 lortab a day to 3 a day the next (while increasing the amount of time between each dose), 2 the next day, 1 the next day and then 1/2lortab=5mg hydrocodone the following day and then 1/2 vicodin=2.5 mg hydrocodone (I still have a few left after they switched me to the lortab) the following day (roughly about six days). Is this to fast tapering? I really don't want to go through withdrawl and never have but I understand that if I take pain meds when I am not in much pain the chance for becoming addicted rises? I am not having a true addiction but have been told by the dr I would become "dependant" on the pain meds while on them. Pain wouldn't allow me to heal and three dr's told me to keep on the pain meds so I could heal better.
Thanks for the responses. You're right I bet she saw many addicted patients. There was one guy in there doing p.t. after being hit by a truck. He had surgery on both his legs and was in so much pain. He asked another patient what they were taking for pain and she mentioned vicodin. My p.t. said "no you don't want to take that it's addicting." I think she needs a course in the difference between addiction and dependence on pain meds.

I feel I have allowed myself to suffer more than I should have in the beginning because I was concerned about the amount of tylenol in the vicodin to which the first dr. told me I could take two at a time if needed. Another dr. just said that was a LOT of vicodin. I got scared at his response so I suffered more than I should have. With the lortab (that I just recently discovered) has the same amount of tylenol but twice the strength of hydrocodone so I don't have to worry as much.

A neurologist who I saw about a month after the injury said I'd be better in a few weeks and I expected to and also said to continue with the chiropractor and physical therapy there. The lady that I was complaining about earlier was a p.t. at another place after chiro made me worse. I even tapered off meds back then (chiro and p.t. urged me that if I didn't try to get off the meds I would become dependant) and I got worse every time I did so, so my hubby told me to stay on the meds and don't do the exercises. I wish I hadn't listened to the p.t. and chiro's advise to go off the meds back then. Maybe I would have been healed by now. The dr. said I would heal from this and didn't need surgery. After the MRI I had chiropractic treatment and manipulation of the neck which made me worse and I wish I would have known not to have that done. Here I am seven months later after three epidural injections and a joint one, now trying to see if I can taper off the meds. I wonder if an additional MRI should be done to see if I am actually healed. No one told me the pain and muscle spasms would last this long and I expected to be 100% several months ago. Sorry for all the venting but I have been tired of all this pain and limitations.
It is people like your PT that give us chronic pain sufferers most of our anxiety about becoming addicted!! Here you are obviously in pain , ready to exchange quality of life as pain free as you can be right now for a life where it hurts to even get out of bed in the morning and all for what?? The term "addicted" all these docs that know nothing untill they have suffered some of our pain? The doctors that dont know the difference between addiction and dependence? Becoming dependent on pain meds is normal if you have been taking them for a long period of time and there is nothing abnormal about it your PT should be keeping her mouth shut and doing her job which doesnt include butting into your life and critisizing what a "real doctor" has prescribed as your treatment. I wish I could say I was just taking 4 percocets a day after the 2 years I have been on them. I tried every NSAID going for 10 years untill they damaged my stomach so badly I have to take Losec the rest of my life. All because they werent narcotic?? Like Risky I developed a dependence too but thats not what worried my doctor he was worried about all the TYLENOL in the percocet. He has put me on Oxycontin now which has no tylenol and I take 2 pills a day as opposed to say 6 to 10 of the percs to get the same relief. Of course I am now tapering off the percs. The plan my doc gave me was to decrease my dose by one pill every 2 weeks but I am doing it every week. Since I started the oxycontin I have only been taking 4 percs a day so my plan is 4 percs a day for a week...3 percs a day for the next week...then 2 then one. I have the oxycontin for my initial pain so hopefully this wont be so bad. Thanks for letting me rant but stupid "docs or Pts or whoever" lol that know nothing about us or who we are casting judgment makes me mad. I wish you the best and take care of your pain first before you worry about what no brainers have to say about it.
Thanks for all the responses. I am still experiencing some pain on the left side. I have cut down to 2 1/2 to 3 per day (I'm back to one every 6-7 hours during the day) and go 10-11 hours from bedtime till morning. Thank God for the injections. I never realized how much pain I was in till I have had a LOT of relief since this last one.

Autumn I appreciate your words. I'm sorry you damaged your stomach. I didn't take anti-inflammatories because the chiro warned me it may tear up my stomach. Actually I have trouble with my stomach and anti-inflammatories anyway so I agreed with him. I just wish he had told me that something like an epidural injection was available rather than tell me to cut off the meds.

I have to go back to the p.t. lady because she gave me a theraband that wasn't long enough. Hubby said he didn't want me doing any exercises till I'm better but I know I'll have to start back sometime. I mentioned it to the p.t. before during therapy that the theraband was not long enough and she said I would just get used to it and as my muscles got stronger it woudl be ok. It never has been ok and I don't feel like I'm doing the exercises properly with such a short band. I always got a longer one at the place. I want to take something to her that tells the difference between addiction and dependence. I found this link and may print it out for her because I'm so mad at the way she treated me as "hooked" and told me to not take the meds after the dr. told me to. [url=""][/url] "The opioid-dependent patient with chronic pain has improved function with his use of the drugs and the patient with opioid addiction does not." I had improved in p.t. and just took the pain meds before hand without telling her. I wonder if I should fess up and tell her that because I feel that that's the reason I did well.

It may help other patients and her attitude. I know she will ask how I've been feeling. She told me at one time that a dr. gave her vicodin but she never took it and resorted to something else either herbal or over the counter, I can't remember. She sounds like a "tree hugger" as my hubby put it and wants things done her way only. Thanks Craze, Risky, and Gina for the additional info. You've all been very helpful.
Update... It's been awhile since I wrote on this thread but I wanted to let those interested that
I talked with my pm dr. about the p.t. lady. He said that she needs to stick with p.t. because medicine is not her job. I told him I had a concern about addiction and he explained to me that dependency is similar to a diabetic in need of insulin. Basically as long as I was having pain I didn't need to worry. Now if I was taking pain meds to feel good that was a different thing.
I have printed out the link and thought about mailing it to her annonymously. I never did have to see her about getting a new theraband because the first was to short. Hubby just went in and got one for me by a different therapist. I'm just still mad about what she said to me and I can't seem to leave it alone. I need to know if anyone thinks it's ok to mail a print out copy of what the link said to my p.t. annonymously? If I decide to make a formal complaint later on like say if I need therapy again, I sure won't go back to that same place. My pm dr. knows that. I really don't want to go to a lawyer or anything but I think she needs to know the difference between addiction and dependency. Maybe she will be clueless as to who sent it to her since I've heard her tell other patients that vicodin is addicting.

On another thought, I was thinking about writing a letter to her boss. It may get her fired. I've already seen her arguing with the boss. If I don't write to her boss, I'm hoping that the information I have to send will help her understand and hope that she doesn't ever tell another patient that they shouldn't take pain meds after their dr. told them to.

What to do? Write to her boss or send her the information annonymously. I could put she treated me and I was upset that she labled me as "hooked". Maybe then she will remember though. Any advice?

By the way the dr. put me on the duragesic patch. My pain came back full force and the new MRI showed a couple of changes. I asked if I could try p.t. again at a different place. He said he doesn't want me doing any therapy now. I'm seeing a spine specialist next week.

[This message has been edited by j_f_2003 (edited 07-06-2003).]

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