Q&A: When should I stop taking pain medications during my TMS recovery?

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When should I stop taking pain medications during my TMS recovery?

Answer by John Stracks, MD

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Practitioner Johns Stracks

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Like many issues with TMS, the process is different for everyone but in general people gradually wean the medication as they become more confident of their ability to handle the pain using TMS techniques. I do NOT think that you need to stop the medication completely at the beginning of your TMS treatment (ie continuing to use some medication initially does not sabotage the TMS treatment process). If, as time goes along, you are not using less medication then you probably need to do more psychological work or re-read Dr. Sarno's book (or Dr. Clarke's or Dr. Schubiner's...) to figure out what's causing the pain. Many people have told me that in the end they keep medication handy for flare-ups even though they find they never actually need to take the medication because the flare-ups are so much more mild than they once were.

Medications like NSAIDs (Aleve, Motrin, etc) can generally be stopped fairly quickly as there is not a significant danger of withdrawal symptoms. Narcotic pain medications (Vicodin, Norco) can be stopped quickly as there's no danger in doing so; in reality, though, withdrawal symptoms from stopping narcotics are strong and most people wean these gradually over the course of weeks or months. Anti-anxiety medications like benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium) MUST be weaned off gradually as stopping them abruptly can cause seizures. Weaning narcotic and benzodiazepine medication should probably be done under the supervision of a health care professional.


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