Tramadol, sold under the brand name Ultram among others, is an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. When taken by mouth in an immediate-release formulation, the onset of pain relief usually begins within an hour. It is also available by injection. It may be sold in combination with paracetamol (acetaminophen) or as longer-acting formulations.
Tramadol (a schedule IV drug in the US) is used primarily to treat mild to severe pain, both acute and chronic.
Long-term use of high doses of tramadol causes physical dependence and withdrawal syndrome. These include both symptoms typical of opioid withdrawal and those associated with serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) withdrawal; symptoms include numbness, tingling, paresthesia, and tinnitus. Psychiatric symptoms may include hallucinations, paranoia, extreme anxiety, panic attacks, and confusion. In most cases, tramadol withdrawal will set in 12–20 hours after the last dose, but this can vary. Tramadol withdrawal typically lasts longer than that of other opioids. Seven days or more of acute withdrawal symptoms can occur as opposed to typically 3 or 4 days for other codeine analogues.
Tramadol was patented in 1963 and launched under the name “Tramal” in 1977 by the West German pharmaceutical company Grünenthal GmbH. In the mid-1990s, it was approved in the United Kingdom and the United States. It is available as a generic medication and marketed under many brand names worldwide. In 2017, it was the 32nd most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than 21 million prescriptions.
Tramadol may not provide adequate pain control for individuals with certain genetic variants of CYP2D6 enzymes as they metabolize tramadol to the inactive molecule.
Take tramadol exactly as prescribed. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Tramadol can slow or stop your breathing, especially when you start using this medicine or whenever your dose is changed. Never take this medicine in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Tell your doctor if the medicine seems to stop working as well in relieving your pain.
Tramadol may be habit-forming, even at regular doses. Never share this medicine with another person, especially someone with a history of drug abuse or addiction
Usual Adult Dose for Pain
Adults (17 years or older): 50 to 100 mg orally every 4 to 6 hours as needed for pain
-For patients not requiring rapid onset of analgesic effect: Initial dose: 25 mg orally once a day; titrate in 25 mg increments every 3 days to reach a dose of 25 mg four times a day; thereafter increase by 50 mg as tolerated every 3 days.
Maximum dose: 400 mg per day
The most common adverse effects of tramadol include nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, indigestion, abdominal pain, vertigo, vomiting, constipation, drowsiness, and headache. Other side effects may result from interactions with other medications. Tramadol has the same dose-dependent adverse effects as morphine including respiratory depression.