Tramadol is an opioid medication that’s used to treat moderate to severe pain. Tramadol works by changing the way the brain and body perceive pain. Specifically, tramadol both inhibits serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake AND activates opiate receptors in the central nervous system to enhancing the inhibitory effects on pain transmission in the spinal cord. How long tramadol lasts depends on immediate release (4-6 hours) vs. extended release versions (24 hours).
More here on how fast tramadol works, for how long, and what you can do to make tramadol work better. Your questions about tramadol are welcomed at the end.
How does tramadol affect the brain and nervous system?
Experts still don’t know the exact reasons why or how tramadol causes pain relief. However, they do know that tramadol is an opium-derived synthetic substance that interacts with opiate receptors in the brain, helping to lessen the sensations of pain, treat withdrawal symptoms, and sometimes create feelings of euphoric pleasure. Further, tramadol has dual mechanisms of action which result in pain relief:
1. enhancement of serotonin and norepinephrine transmission
2. micro-opioid receptor activation
So given the function of tramadol, can you overdose on tramadol? Yes, it is possible to overdose on tramadol. The recommended daily dose of tramadol is 450 mg per day.
How does tramadol work in the body?
Tramadol works in the body by first affecting the brain. Tramadol is a central nervous system depressant whose effects can result in:
- loss of consciousness
- impaired coordination
- pain relief
- shallow breathing
- slowed heart rate
Some of these side effects can be dangerous and even life-threatening, but serious side effects normally only occur when tramadol is not taken as directed.
How fast does tramadol work
After oral administration, tramadol is rapidly and almost completely absorbed. Tramadol hits its peak blood plasma level an hour and a half after the drug is taken, at which point it takes full effect. Sometimes people will crush and snort tramadol powder from the tablets to try to get more immediate effects, but this is dangerous and can result in increased adverse effects, nasal infections, or overdose.
How long does tramadol work?
Tramadol has a half life of 6 hours. The immediate-release tramadol tablet will need to be taken every 4-6 hours for continuous pain relief, otherwise the effects will wear off. The extended-release tramadol tablet, used mainly to manage chronic pain, will last for 24 hours. This tablet is only taken once a day.
What makes tramadol work better
There are no specific instructions given from tramadol manufacturers which describe how you can make tramadol work better (Ex. taken with food vs. an empty stomach). However, there are a few warnings for how to take tramadol safely. For example, tramadol should not be taken along with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines. Tramadol can cause excessive drowsiness and even be dangerous when mixed with other medications. Tramadol needs to be taken exactly as directed, and not crushed, chewed, or snorted.
Does tramadol work for everyone?
No, Tramadol is not right for everyone. In some people, tramadol can have serious side effects or cause an allergic reaction. Plus, tramadol is a habit-forming medication, so it’s not recommended for those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
If you experience problems while taking tramadol, you should talk to your doctor immediately about discontinuing the medication. There may be other medications you’re taking which interact with tramadol, so always check with your pharmacist before taking any new medications.
How tramadol works questions
Do you still have questions about how tramadol works or about tramadol in general? Please leave us your tramadol questions below. We will be happy to try to answer your questions ASAP.