The primary use for Tramadol is for severe pain, and it acts as a narcotic analgesic. It’s a synthetic codeine analogue and comes with central analgesic properties. The effects of these properties are very similar to the likes of opioids, including morphine, codeine, and it acts on specific opioid receptors.

Another benefit of Tramadol is that it’s seen as a low-risk option for those who are in need of opioids. The drug helps to treat moderate to severe pain, and this is made possible due to its tolerability profile and multimodal mechanism of action.

Now that you have a general scope of how the drug works, let’s take a look at a few specifics regarding how Tramadol works.

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Taking a Look the Basics

When you take a look at the World Health Organization’s pain ladder, Tramadol is considered a level two solution. Other medications may be a primary solution regarding pain, but Tramadol is an excellent solution for many individuals. Tramadol also has 1/10th of the potency that morphine has, making it a great alternative.

Tramadol differs in quite a few ways in regard to traditional opioid medications. The drug modulates the effects of neurotransmitters that are involved in the modulation of pain. Serotonin and norepinephrine play a part in this effect.

This matters because serotonin and norepinephrine mimic the effects of other SNRI antidepressants. The pathways that Tramadol takes to achieve the desired results are complementary and synergistic, which helps Tramadol’s ability to respond to pain.

Tramadol has the ability to affect a number of other pain modulators within the central nervous system. Certain pain types Tramadol can help with include neuropathic pain, lower back pain, and post-operative pain.

This also includes pain associated with fibromyalgia, labor, osteoarthritis, and cancer. Although there are many benefits associated with Tramadol, it is known to influence drug abuse, tolerance issues, and dependence.

A breakdown of the pros and cons

Tramadol may not be a viable solution for every individual. The drug comes with many clear benefits, but it also has a decent number of downsides to consider. Individuals who have a known history of substance abuse or mental illness may want to avoid using Tramadol. These traits could lead to a risk of overusing the drug, and doctors may not prescribe the drug.

There are certain problems associated with the drug that could be life-threatening in certain circumstances. However, these primarily occur within the first 24 to 72 hours of administration, and this is especially true for individuals who are new to the drug.

You’ll also find some specific requirements when it comes to taking Tramadol.

The drug shouldn’t be used to treat pain in children under 12 years old. It also shouldn’t be used to treat pain relief after adenoid or tonsil removal in children that are 18 years or younger.

Other medications could potentially increase the risk of breathing problems, in addition to a number of other serious side effects. While undergoing treatment with Tramadol, alcohol, recreational drugs, prescription, and non-prescription medications should be avoided during treatment.

Women who are going through a pregnancy or expect to become pregnant should take caution with Tramadol. It’s also wise to discuss this with your doctor in detail. Tramadol is a drug that shouldn’t be dropped immediately as this can lead to withdrawal which comes with a handful of uncomfortable side effects.

If you happen to experience withdrawal from immediate cessation, you could encounter anxiety, sweating, tremors, insomnia, and more. Although it’s advised not to take other medications alongside Tramadol, this doesn’t mean all medications are off the table.

You’ll want to discuss the details with your doctor, but Tramadol is known to interact with medications such as muscle relaxants, antidepressants, and sedatives.

Individuals that should avoid the drug entirely include those who have asthma, lung disease, suffered from a head injury, or are malnourished. All of this information is a decent cover of the pros and cons of Tramadol, but it’s important to discuss the specific health risks involved with taking the drug.

What are the side effects?

Tramadol does have quite a few side effects that may occur during treatment, but they are by no means a guarantee. If any side effects are experienced at all, most of them are to a minor degree. However, there’s always a possibility that more extreme side effects occur, which can pose more health risks. It’s likely that most patients will never experience any of these side effects, but it’s important to disclose them nonetheless.

More common side effects include:

  • Uncontrollable shaking of body parts
  • Sleepiness
  • Headache
  • Nervousness
  • Changes in mood
  • Muscle tightness
  • Dry mouth
  • Heartburn or indigestion

These are all quite common and manageable for most people. Of course, they may cause a decent amount of discomfort, but they don’t come with a life-and-death situation. On the other hand, the side effects that are considered to be much more serious shouldn’t be taken as lightly.

Potential serious side effects related to Tramadol include:

  • Hoarseness
  • Hives
  • Blisters
  • Rash
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hunger
  • Headaches
  • And more

The list continues, but this gives more than enough insight into what’s possible. Listed side effects with any prescription medication are generally collected over many years. Moreover, they shouldn’t necessarily scare you away from considering Tramadol as a treatment option.

When you take a look at the science behind how Tramadol works, it can get pretty extensive. The information in this article is a comprehensive take on the drug. Speaking with a doctor is your best bet to get answers pertaining to your specific concerns. However, if this isn’t an option any time soon, you can rely on the information in this article and the answers provided in the FAQ section below.


Is it bad to miss a dose of Tramadol?

Missing a single dose of Tramadol shouldn’t cause any health issues. It should be noted that an inconsistent intake schedule could put a damper on the efficacy of the drug. Even if you don’t encounter any health concerns by missing a dose, it won’t bode well for the drug’s intended use.

For a drug to be as effective as possible, it requires a consistent schedule. It’s understandable for someone to miss a dose every now and again, but you want to make sure this doesn’t become a habit.

Can I buy Tramadol over the counter?

This isn’t possible as Tramadol is only available as a prescription. You’ll need to set an appointment with a doctor for a consultation, and they’ll prescribe the drug by writing a script. At that point, you can pick up your Tramadol prescription at your desired pharmacy.

Many people find this to be a bit of a drawn-out process, but it’s required for the safety of those involved. Considering the drug is known for causing dependence and its habit-forming traits, doctors do their best to put it in the hands of those who need it most.

What happens if I overdose on Tramadol?

The effects of an overdose can span from relatively mild to life-threatening. It’s vital you remain aware of an overdose and take action as quickly as possible. Poison control helplines, 911, or even a close friend can be helpful in these situations.

Overdosing on a prescription drug is easier than you might think, but it can be avoided by sticking to your intake instructions. Don’t veer off from the exact amount of Tramadol you’re supposed to be taking, and you can ensure an overdose doesn’t occur.

Can Tramadol cause trouble with breathing?

Research has shown that Tramadol may cause implications with breathing in some individuals. This is especially true pertaining to patients who have asthma. Even with asthma medication, some doctors may not prescribe Tramadol if a patient has a history of respiratory issues.

Breathing troubles aren’t guaranteed when taking Tramadol, but this is a case of better safe than sorry for some people. Those who are already dealing with respiratory health conditions shouldn’t make them any worse by taking Tramadol.

Are there heightened risks for children?

If you’re looking into getting a Tramadol prescription for a child, there are specific requirements that come with this. Before anything else, these specifics will need to be discussed with a healthcare professional.

Tramadol isn’t suggested for any child under the age of twelve. Children that are 12 to 18 years old come with their own set of requirements regarding Tramadol. You have to consider that doctors may not agree to a Tramadol prescription, but the option isn’t entirely off the table for some children.

How common is addiction or dependence?

Some people are more susceptible to issues with addiction and dependence than others. Just because Tramadol is known to be habit-forming, but this doesn’t mean everyone will form these habits.

However, a lot of issues stemming from addiction and dependence come with long-term use of prescription drugs. If you feel like you’re experiencing issues with addiction, make sure to inform your doctor, and they may look at adjusting your dose to help manage this.

Should pregnant women avoid taking Tramadol?

Taking Tramadol isn’t entirely off the table for pregnant women or women who are expecting to become pregnant. Then again, some doctors may not prescribe the medication, but this will vary in some circumstances.

It really depends on the health condition of the individual and the potential side effects associated with the drug. There’s a chance that the drug could affect the baby, but this isn’t a guarantee. There are several specifics regarding pregnant women and Tramadol that a healthcare professional will be able to answer in much more detail.