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Ultram (tramadol) is a type of narcotic-like oral pain reliever that is often prescribed to treat various types pain. Tramadol comes in three forms including: Ultram, Ultracet and extended Tramadol. Ultram was approved by the FDA in 1998 and acts centrally (in the brain) to modulate the sensation of pain; it is not an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) does not have the anti-inflammatory effect of an NSAID. Its mechanism of action is similar to acetaminophen (e. g. Tylenol), but Ultram is a stronger pain reliever than acetaminophen and has a weak narcotic effect.  While Ultram is technically a narcotic or opioid pain medication, it is different from typical narcotics in that it has a dual mechanism of action. Like opioid medications, Ultram can lead to tolerance and addiction.  The narcotic effect of Ultram is not as strong as the narcotic agents .

Tramadol pain reliever for back pain

Ultram is prescribed to control moderate to moderately severe low back pain or chronic pain, or as an intermediary step between over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol or ibuprofen and narcotic pain killers. Other indications for the pain reliever Ultram may include:

The regularly prescribed dose is one or two 50mg tablets every four to six hours, not to exceed eight pills a day. Exceeding the prescribed dose may lead to potentially serious complications, such as respiratory depression or seizures.

Ultram potential risks and complications

As with all pain medications, Ultram has several potential side effects and risks. Several of the more common risks include:

  • Drug interactions. Care should be taken if the patient is also taking antidepressant medications, as a combination of Ultram and antidepressant medications can lead to seizures.
  • Alcohol. Ultram should also not be taken in conjunction with alcohol, tranquilizers, or narcotics because the effects are additive and it may impair mental and physical function. Specifically, Ultram and alcohol are both respiratory depressants, so breathing may be significantly impaired if Ultram and alcohol are combined.
  • Pregnancy risk. Ultram should not be taken by women who may be pregnant.
  • Tolerance. Ultram is not well tolerated by everyone, and some people report feeling “spacey” or “unusual” while on the medication.
  • History of addiction. Patients who have been addicted to other narcotics or alcohol should not take Ultram.

Patients should speak with their physician and/or pharmacist for a full list of potential risks and complications, and to discuss any questions they might have about the pain reliever Ultram.

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