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What Are the Different Uses for Tramadol?

By Melissa Barrett
Updated May 17, 2024
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Individuals who are in serious pain are often given opiate narcotics like tramadol for relief. These medications act on the central nervous system to modify the way that the brain perceives and reacts to pain. These drugs are most often used to treat pain from trauma and medical procedures. More rarely, they are used in the treatment of chronic discomfort.

Intense pain from bone breakage or muscle injury is often treated with tramadol. In emergency treatment, this is regularly accomplished by either direct or intravenous (I.V.) injection. These same administration routes are frequently used after surgical or dental procedures. In both instances, the pill form of the drug may be prescribed during subsequent outpatient recovery.

Narcotic analgesics are also effective in treating chronic pain. For example, both osteoarthritis and more commonly rheumatoid arthritis may be treated with narcotics. The usage of these medications in arthritis is limited, however, as elderly patients are more prone to serious side effects from the drugs. As such, tramadol therapy for arthritis generally combines relatively low doses of the medication with anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as ibuprofen.

Low-dosage, extended-release versions of tramadol have been found effective in fibermyalgia treatment as well. As the pain of this condition is generally body-wide, drugs that act on the central nervous system can provide relief to all areas of tenderness. The sedative properties of the drug can also reduce the sleep problems and, to a lesser degree, the anxiety associated with fibermyalgia.

When taken at night, narcotics may reduce the symptoms of restless leg syndrome. Patients who have this condition experience aches or tingling sensations that primarily affect the lower legs. As frequent movement of the legs is often necessary for relief, this illness can cause severe sleep disturbances. Tramadol can both mask the physical symptoms of the syndrome and encourage sleep.

Special precautions should be taken by individuals using narcotic drugs. These substances can impair thinking and motor functions, making driving dangerous. Often, those driving under the influence of narcotics face the same consequences as drunk drivers. Alcohol use also should be avoided during treatment as it magnifies the sedative effect of both substances. This combination can lead to serious breathing difficulties.

In general, opiate-class narcotics are not recommended for children under the age of 16. Women who are pregnant or have a high likelihood of becoming pregnant should avoid the use of this or any other narcotic. Up to one percent of a mother’s total dose of tramadol can be excreted in breast milk, and as such, women who are nursing are advised against taking this medication. Due to the possibility of addiction, use of this medicine should be monitored carefully when prescribed for chronic pain management.

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