What Is Tramadol?
The reality is that for all of us, experiencing pain is very much a part and parcel of life and without being able to sense pain, we would all be a lot worse off for it. This is because the sensation of pain plays a crucial role in warning us when we are in danger of physical harm or when we have sustained an injury. Imagine putting your hand above a boiling hot flame and not being able to sense the heat gnawing away at your flesh – it is pain that tells us to remove our hand from the source of potential injury or that we have already been burnt.
However, pain is only necessary up to a point and often moderate to severe pains linger for longer than is necessary; long after the patient has been injured and is aware of why they are in pain. The synthetic opioid analgesic (pain relief agent) known as tramadol hydrochloride is one of the most effective forms of painkiller to have ever been created. Its advent was in Germany in 1962 and it was released under the trade name of Tramal. It was only several decades later that it became approved for international use with the UK and the USA approving it in the mid 1990’s. It then received global renown under the trade name of Ultram.
Tramadol is usually sold as a prescription-only painkiller that is employed for treatment of pains that range from moderate to severe. Tramadol is not as strong as morphine or oxycodone, but it is still highly potent and that is why many people take it to assuage the symptoms caused by their source of pain. Tramadol is used for all kinds of maladies and is used as both a long-term and a short-term medication.
How Tramadol Works on Pain Signals
This opioid – although synthetic – is structurally related to both codeine and morphine (the first opioids to ever be sourced and used to relieve pain), however, due to its synthetic nature tramadol has an even greater scope of effect in order to provide relief from pain. This medication is known as a centrally acting opioid analgesic and an SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) which means that beyond binding to opioid receptors found in the central nervous system (CNS) which is made up of the brain and spinal cord, it also enables greater amounts of serotonin and norepinephrine to remain active in the bloodstream for longer.
This is significant as these two chemicals are neurotransmitters which means that they play a role in the transmission of signals through the nerves. Upon taking a dosage of Ultram, this opioid treatment will bind itself to endogenous opioid receptors located within the human body and through doing so, it will reduce the transmission of pain signals being sent by the nerves. By allowing serotonin and norepinephrine to remain active within the bloodstream for longer (both of which are feel-good chemicals), your perception of pain is altered too.
This two-pronged approach to relieving the symptoms of pain is what gives this painkiller the great efficacy that it is known for. When a patient that is in pain takes tramadol 50 mg tablets (or 100 mg), it blocks pain signals which reduces the overall agony being felt and simultaneously causes greater amounts of the two abovementioned neurotransmitters to be present which increases the patient’s tolerance for pain. It does not matter where the source of pain is and the best part is that this medicine gets to work fast, taking only 30 – 45 minutes to activate inside of the body and quickly begin reducing the overall sensation of pain.
What Is Tramadol Used To Treat
This medication is intended and indicated solely for the treatment of pains that range from moderate to severe in intensity. Generally, people that are in slight to moderate pain will not go and buy nor be prescribed Ultram as it is not necessary for them to use such a strong painkiller for their type of pain. This medication is prescribed and used in instances where milder painkillers such as codeine and dihydrocodeine are not proving effective enough in aiding the patient with their source of pain. There are two main forms of moderate to severe pain that people use tramadol for:
- Acute pain: this kind of pain is generally defined by a sudden, sharp spike in discomfort and will not last for longer than 6 months at most. A common misconception is that acute pain is mild and temporary, but this is not the truth. Acute pain generally acts as a warning to your body that it is unsafe and that it is at risk of even greater damage if nothing is done to treat it. People use tramadol in the UK for acute pains such as broken bones, burns, cuts and for severe headaches.
- Chronic pain: is an ongoing, relentless form of severe pain that last for longer than 6 months. This form of pain is actually considered to be a disease state and requires ongoing treatment in order for the sufferer to be able to enjoy life at all. Many people in this scenario will use tramadol for back pain, arthritic pain, cancer pain and fibromyalgia (nerve pain). Chronic pain is often misdiagnosed and this has led to it becoming the greatest form of disability throughout the world, preventing millions of people from enjoying and participating in both their personal and professional lives every year.
Recommended Tramadol Dosage
Whenever you are about to embark on a new course of treatment, it is essential that you know how much of it to take and how to take it. This will ensure that your risk of experiencing adverse effects due to incorrect use is significantly lowered if not completely reduced. The exact tramadol dosage that is required differs from person to person based on various factors including their age, their health and what the medication is being taken for. It is usually recommended that people that are using this medicine for the first time take a lower tramadol dosage and then increase it as and when is needed.
The easiest way to understand the dosage guidelines for this medication is by breaking it into two parts for the two forms of pain that it is meant to treat. Tramadol should be used in the following way:
- For acute pains such as cuts and burns, fractured or broken bones and post-operative pain, the advised dosage is 1 – 2 capsules taken 3 – 4 times per day.
- For chronic pains such as lower back pain, arthritis and fibromyalgia, it is advised that you start your treatment off with one or two tablets and then take 1 – 2 tablets every 4 – 6 hours as is needed.
It is very important to remember that the maximum recommended daily dosage is no more than 400 mg in total. Also note that tramadol 100 mg effects will be double the strength of the standard 50 mg dosage so if you are taking the 100mg tablets, you need to cut your frequency of use in half so as to not go over the daily recommended dosage. Usually, the 100 mg dosage is only prescribed for short-term use in cases where the pain is severe to the point of being unbearable. Always take this remedy as per the instructions of a doctor or per the information contained inside of the leaflet found in the medicine’s packaging.
How To Take Tramadol Safely
Just as important as understanding the correct dosage amount to take of a medicine that you are looking at using is understanding how to use the medicine in the correct way. This will ensure that you do not fall prey to adverse effects and that you glean the maximum benefits that the medicine offers. This is especially true when you are thinking of using a powerful painkiller such as tramadol 50 mg tablets as the incorrect use of such a medicine can be hazardous to your health. Below you will find a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to taking tramadol properly:
- Do consume this medicine in accordance with the patient information leaflet found inside the packaging or as per your doctor’s advice.
- Swallow tramadol whole with a glass of tepid water.
- Take this medicine with a meal as this can prevent feelings of nausea.
- Take tramadol at regular, evenly spaced intervals.
- Do not take tramadol and alcohol together.
- Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed tramadol dosage.
- Do not take tramadol if you are breastfeeding, pregnant or are planning on becoming pregnant.
- Do not share this medicine – even with friends and family.
- Do not take this medication and attempt to operate vehicles or other heavy machinery.
Also note that if you have been using this medicine on a long-term basis, the risk of you experiencing a tramadol hydrochloride withdrawal upon sudden cessation is high. It is best to stop the use of this medicine as per your doctor’s advice and gradually wean yourself off of the medicine to avoid feelings of dependence and withdrawal.
Possible Tramadol Side Effects
The fact is that all medicines run the risk of producing side effects and that is why it is vital that people who want to use them know how to take them and how much to take. Adverse effects are sometimes unavoidable and this is especially true when it comes to potent treatments like tramadol. Different people react in different ways to medication and so the tramadol side effects that are experienced by some will not be the same as with others. Below you will find the side effects that are caused by tramadol from the most common to the rarest:
- Side effects experienced by 1 in 100 users include: dizziness, a dry mouth and nausea (these can easily be addressed by remaining hydrated and taking the medicine with food)
- Side effects experienced by 1 in 1000 users include: constipation, sweating and fatigue.
- Side effects experienced by 1 in 10000 users include: confusion, hallucinations and irregular breathing patterns.
In extremely rare cases, it is also possible for patients to experience anaphylaxis (an overtly allergic reaction) to the key ingredient. In this case, and in the case that you experience any other serious side effects during the course of you taking tramadol, you are advised to contact a healthcare professional immediately.
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