II. Mechanism

  1. Opiate Analgesic (Codeine analog)
  2. Weak mu-receptor binding
  3. Tramadol is a racemic mix of two active stereo isomers
    1. (+) Tramadol
      1. Mu-Opioid receptor agonist
      2. Its metabolite, +O-desmethyltramadol, is also a Mu Opioid agonist (requires CYP2D6 to be created)
      3. Inhibits Serotonin reuptake
    2. (-) Tramadol
      1. Inhibits Norepinephrine reuptake
  4. Marketed as having low abuse and addiction potential
    1. However, tolerance, withdrawal and Drug Seeking Behavior also occur with Tramadol

III. Contraindications

  1. See Drug Interactions below
  2. Seizure disorder or increased Seizure risk factors
  3. Acute Intoxication (Alcohol, hypnotics, Opioids or psychotropic agents)
  4. Breastfeeding women
  5. Pregnancy
  6. All children under age 12 years old
  7. Children ages 12 to 18 years old with additional risks
    1. Tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy
    2. Obesity
    3. Sleep Apnea
  8. References
    1. FDA Drug Safety Communication (4-20-2017)
      1. https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm549679.htm

IV. Precautions

  1. As of 2020, Tramadol has 8 black-box warnings
  2. Weak Analgesic, with abuse potential, variable effect and risk of death in ultrarapid CYP2D6 metabolizers
  3. Other agents are preferred: NSAIDs, Acetaminophen, short acting Morphine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone
  4. Binds Serotonin (and Norepinephrine) receptors with risk of Serotonin Syndrome
  5. Overdose risk
    1. Overdoses present with Seizure, Altered Mental Status, apnea, coma and Miosis
    2. Variable metabolism with an unpredictable dose response in Overdose
      1. CYP2D6 metabolizes Tramadol to desmethyltramadol (a mu-receptor agonist)
      2. CYP2D6 activity varies widely from person to person

V. Classification

  1. Reclassified as FDA Schedule IV Opioid (US, August 2014)

VI. Efficacy: Relatively weak Opioid

  1. One-thirtieth the potency of Morphine (very weak mu receptor agonist)
  2. Equivalent effect to Tylenol with codeine (Tylenol #3) or Ibuprofen
  3. Less effective than Hydrocodone with Acetaminophen (Vicodin 5/500)
    1. Turturro (1998) Ann Emerg Med 32(2): 139-43 [PubMed]

VII. Dosing: General

  1. Starting dose: 50 mg every 6 hours
  2. Usual dose: 50-100 mg every 4-6 hours

VIII. Dosing: Maximum dose per day

  1. Healthy patient: 400 mg/day
  2. Over age 75 years: 300 mg/day
  3. Renal Insufficiency or on Dialysis (Creatinine Clearance <30 ml/min)
    1. Reduce dosing frequency to every 12 hours
    2. Do not exceed 200 mg per day

IX. Disadvantages

  1. More expensive and lower efficacy than other Opioids
  2. SNRI properties with risk of Serotonin Syndrome when combined with other agents (see below)
    1. However, lacks the evidence for neuropathic pain management seen with other SNRIs
  3. Risk of abuse and is Schedule 4 FDA Controlled substance, similar to Hydrocodone as of 2014
    1. Tramadol Overdose has been associated with deaths (especially when combined with Alcohol)
  4. References
    1. Orman and Hayes in Herbert (2016) EM:Rap 16(2): 1-2
    2. (2019) Presc Lett 26(8): 44

X. Adverse Effects

  1. Most common
    1. Nausea (16-40%) or Vomiting (5-17%)
    2. Constipation (9-46%)
    3. Somnolence (7-25%)
    4. Dizziness or Vertigo (33%)
    5. Headache (12-32%)
    6. Xerostomia (5-13%)
    7. Dyspepsia (1-13%)
    8. Neuromuscular weakness (<12%)
  2. Serious adverse effects
    1. Serotonin Syndrome
    2. Seizures
      1. Tramadol lowers the Seizure threshold
      2. Seizure may also occur with tramadol Overdose
    3. Anaphylactoid reaction
    4. Abuse potential
    5. Hyponatremia
    6. Hypotension
    7. Hypoglycemia
      1. Uncommon (<1 per 1000 per year)
      2. Typically occurs in first 10 days of starting
      3. Fournier (2015) JAMA Intern Med 175(2):186-93 +PMID:25485799 [PubMed]
    8. Respiratory Depression in Children
      1. Seen with Ultrafast CYP2D6 metabolizers
      2. Avoid Tramadol use in children
      3. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm463499.htm

XI. Drug Interactions

  1. CYP 2D6 Inhibitors
    1. Block metabolism of Tramadol to active ingredient
      1. Increased adverse effects and decreased efficacy when used in combination with Tramadol
      2. Unique to Tramadol (other Opioids do not have some interaction)
    2. Paroxetine (Paxil)
    3. Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  2. Opioids
    1. Avoid use with other Opiates (no benefit)
  3. Serotonin Syndrome (try to avoid combination with other serotonergic agents)
    1. MAO inhibitors (absolute contraindication)
    2. Linezolid (Zyvox)
    3. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)
    4. Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRI)
    5. Tricyclic Antidepressants
  4. Seizures
    1. Opioids
    2. Bupropion
    3. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI)
    4. Tricyclic Antidepressants
    5. Antipsychotic Medications
  5. Warfarin
    1. Tramadol may increase INR
    2. Recheck INR three days after starting Tramadol
  6. References
    1. (2012) Presc Lett 19(3): 17 [PubMed]

XII. References

  1. LoVecchio (2019) Crit Dec Emerg Med 33(9): 32
  2. Mason and Armenian in Herbert (2019) EM:Rap 19(10): 3-4

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Related Studies

Cost: Medications

tramadol (on 5/17/2017 at Medicaid.Gov Survey of pharmacy drug pricing)
TRAMADOL ER 100 MG TABLET Generic $1.73 each
TRAMADOL ER 200 MG TABLET Generic $3.07 each
TRAMADOL ER 300 MG TABLET Generic $3.84 each
TRAMADOL HCL 50 MG TABLET Generic $0.02 each
TRAMADOL HCL ER 100 MG TABLET Generic $1.72 each
TRAMADOL HCL ER 200 MG TABLET Generic $2.42 each
TRAMADOL HCL ER 300 MG TABLET Generic $3.07 each
TRAMADOL-ACETAMINOPHEN 37.5-325 MG TAB Generic $0.18 each
ultram (on 2/22/2017 at Medicaid.Gov Survey of pharmacy drug pricing)
ULTRAM 50 MG TABLET Generic $0.02 each

Ontology: Tramadol (C0040610)

Definition (CHV) a pain relieving drug
Definition (NCI) A synthetic codeine analogue, Tramadol has central analgesic properties with effects similar to opioids, such as morphine and codeine, acting on specific opioid receptors. Used as a narcotic analgesic for severe pain, it can be addictive and weakly inhibits norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake. (NCI04)
Definition (MSH) A narcotic analgesic proposed for severe pain. It may be habituating.
Concepts Pharmacologic Substance (T121) , Organic Chemical (T109)
MSH D014147
SnomedCT 108507005, 386858008
LNC LP18112-0, MTHU003394
English Tramadol, Cyclohexanol, 2-((dimethylamino)methyl)-1-(3-methoxyphenyl)-, cis-(+-)-, Tramadol [Chemical/Ingredient], TRAMADOL, traMADol, tramadol, Tramadol (product), Tramadol (substance)
Swedish Tramadol
Czech tramadol
Finnish Tramadoli
French Zamudol, Tramadol
Japanese トラマール, クリスピン, トラマドール塩酸塩, 塩酸トラマドール, トラマドール
Polish Tramadol
Spanish tramadol (producto), tramadol (sustancia), tramadol, Tramadol
German Tramadol
Italian Tramadolo
Portuguese Tramadol

Ontology: Ultram (C0724054)

Definition (CHV) brand name of a painkiller drug
Definition (CHV) brand name of a painkiller drug
Concepts Pharmacologic Substance (T121) , Organic Chemical (T109)
MSH D014147
English Ultram, Ortho Brand of Tramadol Hydrochloride, ultram, ultram [brand name]