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Pain medicine and early onset
Posted: Sunday, August 12, 2018 4:33 PM
Joined: 5/15/2016
Posts: 169

My Husband is 65 and was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s two years ago.
 He takes Aricept and is still in the early to mid stages with short term memory and executive function problems

 He is also a diabetic, has sleep apnea and a heart condition.

He has severe disc problems in his back and also needs knee replacement.  They can not do either of these surgeries for one reason because he has Alz, and the anesthesia would most definitely cause progression of the Alz.
He can’t take the steroid injections in his back anymore because he now takes Plavix.

 We are seeing the pain management doctor again on Tuesday.  I’m worried they will offer pain meds as the only solution left.  Neither he nor I are a fan of pain meds, as they seem to be so over prescribed .  That being said, he is in tremendous pain, can barely walk and needs to improve his quality of life while he can still do things.


Has anyone had experience with pain medicine causing worsening cognition in  an Alzheimer’s patient?  The neurologists warn that some pain meds can do this.  We will discuss thoroughly with the doctors, but I was interested in personal experiences.
Also, has anyone else noticed excessive sleeping during the day and staying up extremely late at night during the early stages of Alz.  I know this happens in mid to late stage, but wasn’t sure about early.

 Thank you!


Michael Ellenbogen
Posted: Monday, August 13, 2018 7:35 AM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 3750

 First of all there is usually no reason for not being able to get anesthesia. Its a matter of getting the right one. I have had surgeries every two years for about 8 years and no issues. As far as pain medication they did create a lot of confusion when I was on them but there are many types so one needs to try ones that best work with minimum side effects. We are all different.  But no one should be in pain. You mat also be able to try a tens unit or something like that.  

Posted: Monday, August 13, 2018 9:27 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

Grateful for this post.

I have back pain the time and more so lately as I am weaker and unable to keep walking or swimming like I used to which make a world of difference to me.

I can't recall what the reason was but I can not even tolerate advil or aleve without major reactions that are also unpleasant and they frankly don't touch the pain when it is revved up.

Looking forward to finding out if there is anything that might help.

A member here with Parkinson's used cbd oil and he said it helped him a lot but his doctors found it lowered his blood sugar and blood pressure which interfered with their medications for that (blood pressure would then be too low etc) so he gave up the cbd oil.

There are tinctures for pain but no doctor is going to advise on that. Because I live in a legal state that makes dispensaries nearly impossible I have to rely on whatever I can get.

Sleeping different hours is always a thing and many of us are up at night. One night a few years back I quit thinking it was a "symptom" and decided to respect my body. Then I found being up at night gave me unmonitored time which was important to me.

How and when someone sleeps is apparently disturbing to CGvrs but I doubt it is harmful to the person.

I hope there are some pain meds people report that are effective, constant pain makes me want to die.

Posted: Monday, August 13, 2018 11:16 AM
Joined: 5/15/2016
Posts: 169

Thanks for your responses.  I appreciate them.

Michael, I’m glad you have had surgery without major problems.  His doctors don’t think it would be good for him.  The spine surgery alone would be at least 10 hours long.  I’ve had friends who’s spouses had surgery (one before they even knew he had Alzheimer’s), and they had immediate dramatic declines.  It’s just so risky.  I guess they wouldn’t know if they used the right anesthesia until they tried it, and the results could be bad.

You are right, he shouldn’t be in that much pain, and I think a tens unit will be one of the things we discuss.


I am so sorry you have been in so much pain.  I will let you know what the doctor says.  The CBD oil has been suggested to us by friends, and I am definitely inquiring about that tomorrow.  

I appreciate your input on the sleeping habits.  I agree that he probably does enjoy the quiet, alone, unmonitored time, and I admit, I enjoy the quiet in the daytime on the weekends and when Ive been home from teaching this summer.

He just needs to quit waking me up when he goes to bed, which is usually an hour or two before I was getting up lol.  We are both late night ppl anyways, but now I’m only getting a very few hours of sleep because of this, and it makes it hard to get him up and going when he has to be somewhere.

I do agree though, that to some degree, sometimes I should let it go.

Good luck to all, and I’ll let you know what the doctor says.



Posted: Monday, August 13, 2018 3:21 PM
Joined: 5/30/2013
Posts: 1194

I think chronic pain is a bigger factor in their continued decline, than pain meds could ever be.
Posted: Monday, August 13, 2018 11:55 PM
Joined: 5/15/2016
Posts: 169

It may well be.  I know it is certainly making things horrible for him now.  I also wonder if ppl with Alzheimer’s experience more pain than someone without any form of dementia with the same injury etc.  I often wonder if the brain can’t process the pain or sends different signals etc
Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2018 6:36 AM
Joined: 9/12/2013
Posts: 3608

collapse of B12 post anesthetic is more common than you think.

anyone having even gas at dentist should take B12 before and for weeks after. No one even checks for B12 collapse in patients who "suddenly decline after surgery/anesthetic".

A bottle of B12 sublingual is $6 - $8. You can't overdose.

I have witnessed this,twice in one year.

Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2018 8:28 AM
Joined: 4/2/2015
Posts: 45

I have chronic pain from numerous back issues, too numerous to even begin to talk about but anyway I see a pain management dr and I take Norco daily and I don't think I have any problems from it.

With that being said, the pain I have when not taking the meds leads to such a poor quality of life that any possible mild side effects from the med is well worth it.

Again, I don't have any notable side effects.  


Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2018 7:56 PM
Joined: 5/15/2016
Posts: 169

Thank you everyone for your Information and advice etc.  I will look in to the medicines and things you suggested.

We saw the PA at the pain management doctor.  She wasn’t really super helpful, which was so disappointing.  He can’t have a stimulator or the steroid injections because he is on Plavix.  I would think he’s not the only one they have ever seen with this problem who also has Alzheimer’s and can’t have the surgery.

The only things she suggested were a tens unit (when we brought that up to her), or a Butrans patch.  The tens unit would only provide possible relief the 20 minutes at a time that you wear it several times a day.  She couldn’t give any real info on which was the best unit to buy or if insurance covered it and the supplies.

I’m researching the Butrans patch.  I’m trying to find research on the use of this medicine in an Alzheimer’s patient still in the earlier stages. Please let me know if anyone has had experience with this medicine.

Meanwhile, I will look into the other suggestions.  I have to get some relief for him.

Best of luck to all of you, and I hope the back pain eases for those of you suffering with it.