What is tramadol withdrawal?

Tramadol withdrawal occurs after you’ve been taking tramadol regularly for more than a few weeks. What to expect during tramadol withdrawal here.

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minute read

Tramadol withdrawal occurs when your body is dependent on tramadol and you stop or significant lower doses of tramadol abruptly.  Tramadol dependence how long? (it takes from a few days to a few months of daily use to become dependence tramadol).  But what happens in the body when you withdraw from tramadol and why? How long until tramadol withdrawal starts? (a few hours after the effects of tramadol wear off)?  We review this and more here. Plus, how tramadol withdrawal feels and what can help ease symptoms. We invite your questions about withdrawing from tramadol at the end.

What is tramadol withdrawal syndrome?

Tramadol has both opioid and non-opioid properties and is widely used as a pain reliever because physicians consider tramadol to have a low potential for abuse and dependence. However, withdrawal symptoms can occur when you stop taking tramadol, especially after building up tolerance to tramadol. These set of symptoms mimic a withdrawal from both the opiate and benzodiazepine class of medications. Why does tramadol withdrawal occur?

Withdrawal from tramadol happens because the body can develop a physical dependence on tramadol in order to operate normally. After taking tramadol regularly for more than a few weeks, the brain/body needs tramadol to behave normally because it has integrated the medication into its system. Take away the tramadol from the system and the body in a sense freaks out from no longer having tramadol present. In this way, withdrawal symptoms are a way of regulating homeostasis and helping the brain to rewire and adjust to no longer having tramadol in the system.

What is withdrawal from tramadol like?

For the most part, tramadol is one of the safer analgesic medications to take in terms of addiction potential. Tramadol has a lower potential for dependence and abuse. But that doesn’t mean you can’t develop tolerance to tramadol, physical dependence on tramadol or that you won’t experience withdrawal symptoms. Tramadol is tricky in that there are over 50 reported symptoms when you stop taking or dramatically reduce tramadol intake. And while tramadol withdrawal will be different and unique to each person, in general, the following withdrawal symptoms are most common:

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  • agitation
  • chills
  • convulsions
  • dizziness
  • muscle pain
  • nervousness
  • panic attach
  • seizures
  • sleep disturbances
  • sweats

There is also another common symptom of tramadol withdrawal called serotonin syndrome. Tramadol effects the serotonin in So when you stop taking tramadol, depression can occur and last several months after you have stopped taking tramadol.

What does tramadol withdrawal feel like?

Withdrawing from tramadol can feel hard and uncomfortable at first, but possibly easier than other medications. When you withdraw from tramadol, symptoms present about four hours after the last dose of tramadol has worn off. If you’re not abusing or taking high quantities of tramadol to get high, withdrawal is less severe and should resolve in a couple of days. If you are experiencing the more severe withdrawal symptoms such as tremors and insomnia, it takes about a week for symptoms to diminish. Still, the biggest risk of stopping tramadol is developing serotonin syndrome which is associated with anti-depressant withdrawal and can occur several weeks after the initial tramadol withdrawal.

What helps tramadol withdrawal?

Tramadol is actually a medication that is prescribed by doctors to help with opiate withdrawal. However, doctors DO NOT recommend that you replace tramadol with another opiate based medication. Instead, there are over-the-counter medications that work well to help treat the symptoms of withdrawal from tramadol. These will be quite effective in the short term process of detox.

Three possible treatments for tramadol withdrawal include: tapering, medications, and home remedies.

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1. Home remedies – Home remedices can help assist the actual withdrawal symptoms. There are many helpful tools lying around the house that can aid the discomfort you are feeling. Heating pads and hot showers or baths can take care of bone a muscle pain. A bland diet can help gastro-intestinal discomfort. Also drink lots of water. You lose a lot of fluid during withdrawal and you need to fluid to heal. Cold packs can help with fever or sweats. Finally, over-the-counter medication can alsos like ibuprofen and acetimonphen be helpful in treating flu symptoms and you typical aches and pains.

2. Medications – There are many different medication that doctors may prescribe to help ease withdrawal symptoms of tramadol. The more common ones include clonidine (reduces anxiety, agitation, vomiting/diarrhea) and buprenorphine (has been said to shorten the timeframe of tramadol detox). There are also anti-diarrhea medications out there. Doctors may also prescribe anti-depressant medications to ease serotonin syndrome and other conditions that manifest during withdrawal. If you would like a more extensive list of opiate withdrawal treatment aids please refer to our article about opiate treatments.

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3.Tapering – Tapering from tramadol a standard medical process for stopping tramadol. Tapering is a method of decreasing your tramadol dosage over a period of days and weeks. This helps to monitor the process and to take into consideration any withdrawal symptoms that manifest. There is a general method of tapering for opiate based medication that should be safe and effective. However, people are finding that tramadol is more tricky than originally thought, as it affects the neurochemistry of serotonin profoundly. There is no one tapering procedure that works. Each person needs to be considered individually and taper procedure put in place accordingly.

Questions about tramadol withdrawal

Please, if we have missed anything or if you still have questions about tramadol or tramadol withdrawal, ask them in the space below. We will do our best to respond accordingly.

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Reference Sources: Pub Med Health: Tramadol
National Library of Medicine: Withdrawal syndrome after long-term treatment with tramadol
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.

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  1. I quit taking my tramadol 50mg once a day four days ago should I start taking half of that to taper down I feel terrible

    1. Hi Mary. I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you create an individualized tapering schedule.

  2. I had neck surgery 6 weeks ago, was on Tramadol 3 months prior to surgery and tried to stop taking 3 weeks ago, became very ill, sweats, chills, anxiety, nausea, insomnia and gastric issues. started taking 1 pill a day then 1/2 the last 2 days none and having all the above symptoms again and rapid pulse. have taken Benadryl and Tylenol, heating pad, ice packs etc. so far cant get past the symptoms. Any advice?

  3. I was advised by my doctor to take Tramadol slow release 100mg for artheritis I have had only five pill taken at night. Now I wish to stop as I have read bad things about Tramadol. If I stop now will I suffer withdrawal. Please help

    1. Hi Mimi. I suggest that you seek another doctor, or look for a pain clinic that may help you. Also, consider to try some alternative methods for managing pain. Here’s suggested reading on alternative methods:
      https://nccih.nih.gov/health/pain/chronic.htm
      https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam
      https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002064.htm
      https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/alternative_treatments-a.pdf
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2146582/

  4. Quit Tramadol on NP.s advice on July 5th, still having muscle spasms, violent headaches, achy all over, had taken it 4 years, what to do to help myself? Restless legs, flu like symptoms have passed, how much longer will my head and body ache? I am very nervous and ill tempered.

  5. I asked the Doctor to please take my dad off Tramadol. He is in assisted Living. Yesterday he went off Tramadol and today
    he slept the entire day. He asked me why he is so sleepy.
    Is this a withdrawal sign ?

  6. Took hydrocodone for 2 years, in many combinations all equaling 25mg a day. Told my Dr I wanted to stop. Nurse suggested Tramadol. I started Tramodol 9 days ago 50 mg every 6 hrs = 200 mg
    No Hydrocodone for that same last 9 days. Terrible anxiety problems. I also take Xanax 4 mg a day as needed. I want off tramadol asap. With on 10th day (today) taking , can I quit quickly ? for having taken it such a short time?
    Thanx & God Bless

    1. Hi Mac. It’s safer to quit Tramadol gradually, so I suggest you speak with your doctor to help you create an individualized tapering schedule.

  7. I had no idea that I was having such a problem,until I was taking 16 a day and still hurting. With that being said,I stopped cold turkey and feel horrible. Flu,depression,my body hurts,and the “brain squeezes” are all the time. I take migraine medicine and norco for headaches and also muscle relaxers,all of these only when needed. Should I take aleve maybe to help with the tramadol withdrawal? it was never to get a high,tramadol was used so that i could work.

  8. Hello Kate. I’d suggest that you check in with your prescribing doctor or a pharmacist ASAP about risks of withdrawal to a fetus. From what I’ve read, tramadol withdrawal is uncomfortable but seldom life-threatening.

  9. This is the devil’s drug. Had back surgery and told my doctor not to put me on anything like lortab because I know what can happen to people. Fast forward four years later and now I cannot get off of these (I am now at 100 mg/day). My doctor will not taper me off…will not refill because I’m pregnant. Worried the withdrawal will cause miscarriage. Any suggestions? Only have 5 days worth left…not enough pills to taper myself off and not enough time to see another doctor. Very scared this garbage will hurt my baby…and very disgusted my idiot dr gave me junk worse than a lortab!

  10. Listen to me very carefully, the withdrawal from Tramadol is hardly noticeable. ((IF)) You are also taking an SSRI like Cymbalta. I take large amounts of Tramadol folks and quite often to allow my bowels to return to normal. I have absolutely no withdrawal symptoms beside a tad of lethargy. It is literally all in your head guys. Fight it and gone is goes.

  11. Hello little lulu. From the experience of other users, the energy should return around 7 days after the last use. However, it is different for everyone. Most people report major improvement after the 5th day and most of the symptoms are decreased in 2 weeks. Just keep going, you will succeed!

  12. I have been taken 500 to 600 milligrams of tramadol a day for about 2 years, I quit cold turkey now for about 9 days now, when should I start getting my energy level back to normal or just to have some!!!!!!

  13. Hey guys. I’ll try and explain as easy as possible. I’m 23 and have cystic fibrosis amongst other things I was started on codeine for my rheumotoid arthritis and became addicted and was taking way more than I should I was on these from 13 and was made to stop these at 16 I can’t remember how but managed to. Since , I was prescribed tramadol at 17 and once again began to become tolerant to it so began to abuse it. I was on 50mg and was averaging on 30-35 a day. Very addicted ! Over the last year due to the depression it was causing me I got myself right down. I want to get completely off of them but am having trouble , I am on 1 \ 2 at night time because if I don’t the spasms and muscle tightness and twinges in my back is unbearable. Is there anything I could have to replace it just to get through the night or anything you suggest ? I’m so desperate !! 🙁

  14. I have been on 400mg of Tramadol for 4 months. Lost my meds on vacation and cannot refill for a week. I haven’t had any for 3 days and I feel fine. No withdrawals at all, well perhaps a bit of lethargy.

  15. Hello Francis. It’s not recommended to stop Tramadol cold turkey, instead doctors suggest tapering gradually to avoid adverse withdrawals and reduce the risks from quiting abruptly. Some symptoms can’t be avoided even with tapering, though. The first week is the worst, and then things start to get better. Hang in there! But, just to be safe, if you experience any strange side-effects don’t hesitate to call a doctor.

  16. I have been taking 50mg of tramadol since July 15. Yesterday I stopped medication. Today I feel as if I have been mummified. I have slept all morning and will do so again. Advice?

  17. Hi all! I have been on tramadol for a year and a half now and due to building up a tolerance and having increased pain I ran out of my months supply waaayyyy early. I have 2 children and it’s summer vacation and I feel like crap. Is there anything otc to help me through this? Thanks in advance!

  18. Hello Michael. Exhaustion is one of the most common effects when withdrawing from Tramadol. It seems that you are living a good, active, healthy life. That’s probably everything that is in your power to help the process, and doctors suggest multi-vitamins and exercise. I’d suggest that you keep up with your exercising schedule, even if you’re tired. Hang in there!

  19. I have been taking Tramadol for about two years for severe bone on bone arthritis, averaging three 50 milligram tablets a day. I had a hip replacement and want to get off the Tramadol, but I am having a heck of a time with total exhaustion, I never feel rested, never! I’m on a recumbent exercise bike 5-6 six days a week, playing handball once a week, taking a multi-vitamin everyday, drinking lots of water, eating a good diet, etc., but I’m falling asleep in the afternoon. I’m 65, very active, still fully employed. Is there any worry I need to be concerned about while I’m working through this exhaustion thing?

  20. Hello Phyllis. I’d suggest that you check in with your prescribing physician and report these symptoms. Is it possible that hot flashes and nausea are caused by another medical condition? Acute tramadol withdrawal symptoms usually resolve in the first 7-10 days after cessation.

  21. Took 50 mg every 6 hrs for 1 month after tkr then tapered off to eventually 2 per week for 1 month for physical therapy now been off all for 18 days still getting hot flashes and nausea every day worse than the day before Is this normal or should I expect to feel this bad much longer

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