Tramadol, sold under the brand name Ultram among others, is an opioid pain medication used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. When taken by mouth in an immediate-release formulation, the onset of pain relief usually occurs within an hour. It is often combined with paracetamol (acetaminophen) as this is known to improve the efficacy of tramadol in relieving pain.
Common side effects include: constipation, itchiness and nausea. Serious side effects may include seizures, increased risk of serotonin syndrome, decreased alertness, and drug addiction. A change in dosage may be recommended in those with kidney or liver problems. It is not recommended in those who are at risk of suicide. While not recommended in women who are breastfeeding, those who take a single dose should not generally stop breastfeeding.
It works by binding to the μ-opioid receptor and by acting as a serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). Tramadol is in the opioid class of analgesics. In the body it is converted to desmetramadol, which is a more potent opioid.
Tramadol was launched and marketed as “Tramal” by the German pharmaceutical company Grünenthal GmbH in 1977 in West Germany, and 20 years later it was launched in the UK, US, and Australia. It is marketed under many brand names worldwide.