Tramadol is a synthetic (man-made) pain reliever (analgesic). Researchers and doctors do not know the exact mechanism of action of tramadol, but it is similar to morphine. Like morphine, tramadol binds to receptors in the brain (narcotic or opioid receptors) that are important for transmitting the sensation of pain from throughout the body to the brain.
Like other narcotics used to treat pain, patients taking tramadol may abuse the drug and become addicted to it.
Doctors prescribe tramadol to manage moderate to moderately severe pain. Extended release tablets are used for moderate to moderately severe chronic pain in adults who require continuous treatment for an extended period.
Tramadol should not be used to treat pain in children younger than 12 years of age, and it should not be used to treat pain after surgery to remove the tonsils and/or adenoids in children younger than 18 years of age. Children between 12 and 18 years of age who are overweight or have breathing problems such as obstructive sleep apnea or severe lung disease should not receive tramadol.
Tramadol is generally well tolerated, and side effects are usually temporary.
Commonly reported side effects of tramadol include:
Less commonly reported side effects include:
Tramadol is a narcotic and is addictive. Tramadol is a Schedule IV controlled substance that has been associated with addiction, abuse, and misuse. Tramadol may be addictive, even at the dosage your doctor has prescribed. Abuse or misuse of tramadol can lead to overdose and death.
Like other opioids, people who take tramadol for a long time will develop withdrawal symptoms if your doctor reduces the dosage, or if you suddenly stop taking tramadol.
Withdrawal symptoms that may occur include:
Infants born to mothers who were taking tramadol during the pregnancy will develop symptoms of withdrawal and difficulty breathing.
To review how tramadol compares to other pain medications, please refer to this information.
Because researchers have not established the safety of tramadol during pregnancy, the safety of tramadol during pregnancy has not been established.
Tramadol is available as:
Store tramadol at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F), in a sealed container.
Ultram, Ultram ER, and Conzip are the current brand names available for tramadol in the US. Discontinued brands include Rebix OTD, and Ryzolt.
Tramadol is available in generic form, and you need a prescription for it from your doctor or other health care professional.
The FDA approved tramadol in March 1995.
Medically Reviewed on 2/12/2020
FDA Prescribing Information