Tramadol 50mg is a pain-relieving medication, used for the treatment of moderate to moderately severe discomfort and painful sensations. This painkiller tablet is marketed under the brand name, Ultram, amongst others. It is a well-known medication and is popular amongst those looking for a quick solution to painful conditions, such as migraines and muscle pains.

You can buy tramadol online in generic formulations as well as branded versions, such as the brand Ultram mentioned above. The immediate-release form of the pain-reliever works to rapidly treat pain, with a relatively short onset of action. There are also longer-lasting forms available on the pharmaceutical market and combination medicines too.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the regular-release versions of this tablet in March, 1995. It was only ten years later that the extended-release formulations were approved by the same U.S organisation.

Combination medicines formulate these painkillers with other analgesics, such as paracetamol, to create a more potent pain-relieving medication.

There are numerous brands of this pain medicine available for purchase, and this therapeutic is widely used. In fact, more than 24 million prescriptions were recorded by the U.S population, in the year 2018 alone.  

What is Tramadol Used For?

·         The primary function of these tablets is to treat mild to severe discomfort, for both acute and chronic conditions. Acute pain usually occurs rapidly, with a sharp sense of aching. These pains happen quickly and then tend to disappear. Chronic pain, on the other hand, lasts for longer than six months and is often presented with more persistent and dull aches.

·         There is evidence, albeit limited, for the use of this analgesic in the treatment of fibromyalgia (a widespread musculoskeletal pain) but this medical use has not been approved by the FDA. The National Health Services (NHS) does, however, approve the use of this painkiller for the above mentioned purpose, but only as a second-line treatment.

·         In certain circumstances, these pain-relieving tablets are prescribed for the management of the symptoms of restless leg syndrome (RLS), especially in cases where first-line treatments, like gabapentinoids, have failed.

·         On a dose to dose basis, the analgesic effect of tramadol 50mg is equally as potent to one-tenth the strength of morphine. It is also equal in potency to other opioids, such as codeine and pethidine. For pain, which is classified as moderate in severity, this painkiller is equivalent in efficacy to codeine, at low dosages.

What is Tramadol Classified As?

These tablets are classified as opioids. As from the 19th century, opioid medications have been extensively used as a sedative and pain-relieving medication.

These tablets are derived from the poppy plant and have been available for medical use, in the United States, as far back as 1775. The analgesic properties were used to treat soldiers injured during the civil war, but the use thereof was limited after it was noticed that the soldiers became overly dependent on the medication.

In 2017, healthcare practitioners handed out more than 191 million prescriptions for opioid pain medicines. This translates to a rate of 58.7 prescriptions per 100 people. The popularity of this therapeutic is attributed to the effectiveness of the painkiller.

Opioids do have a relatively high potential of abuse, as compared to other prescription medications. However, they also have relatively great potency and efficacy as well.

In a study evaluating the efficacy of opioids and opium, Freire Duarte (2005) suggested that regardless of studies involving medicines with different pharmacological properties, opioids were still the most potent analgesics. This researcher went on to add that, based on current clinical pharmacology, an appropriate opioid can be selected based on the patient’s conditions and disease, and this will allow for elucidation of the best cost to benefit ratio.

How Does Tramadol Work?

·         Opiates work by binding to, and activating, opioid receptors located in the brain, spinal cord as well as other areas of the body. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), opioid analgesics differ from the natural opioids found in the brain. Opiates differ in how they activate the receptors in the nerve cells as well. It is these differences which may allow a scientific route that can enable researchers to develop more efficacious, and less-addictive, opiate pharmaceutical treatments.

·         In addition to affecting opioid receptors, tramadol 50mg can also influence the levels of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and hormone responsible for the regulation of mood. These painkiller tablets work to inhibit the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine neurotransmitters.

·         Moreover, this analgesic functions to stimulate dopamine receptors and inhibit the activity of gamma-aminobutryic acid (GABA) in the central nervous system (CNS).

·         The above mechanisms of action all contribute to the ‘masking’ of painful sensations in the brain and body, thereby effectively relieving painful conditions.

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Can I Become Addicted to Tramadol?

·         All medications carry a risk of addiction and dependency. This is slightly more significant for the use of opioids.

·         In a recent survey (2019) it was found that an estimated 10.1 million people, aged 12 years or older, misused opiates. This statistic was also directly related to the use of pain medicines, as 9.7 million people involved in this study misused analgesic medications. 

·         Even though, these tablets have a potential to be abused, if used in the short-term and for the prescribed period of time, these painkillers can be more useful than harmful. Dependency and tolerance becomes a cause for concern when these analgesics are used outside the recommended guidelines, and against medical advice.

·         Adjusting dosages, to be higher than those recommended is one of the ways that these tablets can become addictive. If the body becomes accustomed to having large amounts of the therapeutics present, tolerance and dependency can become an issue.

·        In the event that you feel you may have developed tolerance to the pain medication, you should gradually taper off the analgesic. This can be done by adjusting your dosing schedule to include a reduced dosage every week and continuing this process until you have safely and entirely weaned off the medication.

Gradual tapering is preferred over an abrupt discontinuation as the latter may result in the onset of serious withdrawal symptoms and complications.

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