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Tramadol (By mouth)

Treats moderate to severe pain. This medicine is a narcotic pain reliever.

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

Tramadol is used to relieve moderate to moderately severe pain, including pain after surgery. The extended-release or long-acting tablets are used for chronic ongoing pain. Tramadol belongs to the group of medicines called opioid analgesics. It acts in the central nervous system (CNS) to relieve pain. When tramadol is used for a long time, it may become habit-forming (causing mental or physical… Read more
Brand names include
ConZip, FusePaq Synapryn, Rybix ODT, Ryzolt, Ultram, Ultram ER, traMADol HCl
Drug classes About this
Analgesic
Combinations including this drug

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Tramadol for osteoarthritis

There is gold level evidence that to treat osteoarthritis, tramadol taken for up to three months may decrease pain, may improve stiffness and function and overall‐well being. Tramadol may cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, constipation, tiredness, and headache.

Does the perioperative administration of tramadol provide effective and safe postoperative analgesia in children?

Children experience pain after surgery (‘postoperative pain’) and according to recently published trials the management of this pain is of major concern. A combination of drugs may be the best way to treat postoperative pain, for example drugs called ‘opioids’, like morphine and codeine. However, there are concerns about severe side effects (adverse events) when using opioids. Tramadol is a weak opioid that is used worldwide to treat children with moderate to severe acute or chronic pain. Tramadol can be given to children before surgery to help reduce pain afterwards. It is believed that tramadol administration might be associated with a lower risk for respiratory or haemodynamic depression and might therefore be the ideal analgesic drug for children in the perioperative period. Our systematic review assessed the efficacy and adverse events of tramadol administration compared to placebo or other opioids. In July 2014 we found 20 small randomised controlled trials involving 1170 patients. These small trials had limited data but tramadol may be better than placebo. In five trials, mostly preschool children undergoing minor surgery (for example tonsillectomy) were treated with tramadol or placebo before the start of surgery. Children needed less rescue medication in the postoperative care unit when given tramadol, indicating better analgesia with tramadol. Due to the low amount of usable data, the evidence focusing on the comparison of tramadol with other opioids (for example morphine, nalbuphine, pethidine, fentanyl) is currently unclear. Adverse events were generally only poorly reported in the trials so that the side effects as a result of tramadol administration were not clear.

Tramadol for treating neuropathic pain

We found low‐quality evidence that oral tramadol has any important beneficial effect on pain in people with moderate or severe neuropathic pain. There is very little evidence from which to take these conclusions.

See all (128)

Summaries for consumers

Tramadol for osteoarthritis

There is gold level evidence that to treat osteoarthritis, tramadol taken for up to three months may decrease pain, may improve stiffness and function and overall‐well being. Tramadol may cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, constipation, tiredness, and headache.

Does the perioperative administration of tramadol provide effective and safe postoperative analgesia in children?

Children experience pain after surgery (‘postoperative pain’) and according to recently published trials the management of this pain is of major concern. A combination of drugs may be the best way to treat postoperative pain, for example drugs called ‘opioids’, like morphine and codeine. However, there are concerns about severe side effects (adverse events) when using opioids. Tramadol is a weak opioid that is used worldwide to treat children with moderate to severe acute or chronic pain. Tramadol can be given to children before surgery to help reduce pain afterwards. It is believed that tramadol administration might be associated with a lower risk for respiratory or haemodynamic depression and might therefore be the ideal analgesic drug for children in the perioperative period. Our systematic review assessed the efficacy and adverse events of tramadol administration compared to placebo or other opioids. In July 2014 we found 20 small randomised controlled trials involving 1170 patients. These small trials had limited data but tramadol may be better than placebo. In five trials, mostly preschool children undergoing minor surgery (for example tonsillectomy) were treated with tramadol or placebo before the start of surgery. Children needed less rescue medication in the postoperative care unit when given tramadol, indicating better analgesia with tramadol. Due to the low amount of usable data, the evidence focusing on the comparison of tramadol with other opioids (for example morphine, nalbuphine, pethidine, fentanyl) is currently unclear. Adverse events were generally only poorly reported in the trials so that the side effects as a result of tramadol administration were not clear.

Tramadol for treating neuropathic pain

We found low‐quality evidence that oral tramadol has any important beneficial effect on pain in people with moderate or severe neuropathic pain. There is very little evidence from which to take these conclusions.

See all (33)

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