Ultracet is used for relieving pain. It is licensed for the short-term treatment of pain and should only be used for up to five days. Healthcare providers may sometimes recommend off-label Ultracet uses as well, such as for treating chronic pain. The medication is not approved for use in children.
What Is Ultracet Used For? -- An Overview
Ultracet® (tramadol/acetaminophen) is a prescription medication approved for short-term pain relief (five days or fewer). It is not appropriate for long-term use.
Typically, Ultracet is used to treat pain that is likely to improve quickly, such as pain due to an injury, surgery, or dental procedure. Ultracet contains tramadol, an opioid related to codeine, and is classified as a controlled substance in the United States. It was initially promoted as a pain reliever with little potential for abuse (based on early studies), but practical experience with the drug suggests that it probably does have significant abuse potential (see Addiction to Ultracet for more information).
How Does Ultracet Work?
Ultracet contains two different medications: acetaminophen and tramadol hydrochloride. Tramadol is an opioid pain reliever. It is not entirely clear how tramadol works to relieve pain. One of the metabolites of Ultracet can bind to opioid receptors (much like morphine) and may also have effects on serotonin and norepinephrine (important brain chemicals).
Acetaminophen ("APAP") is a pain reliever and fever reducer commonly found in non-prescription medications such as Tylenol®. "APAP" is an acronym for one of the chemical names for acetaminophen. Combining tramadol with acetaminophen helps improve Ultracet's effectiveness at relieving pain.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Schedules of controlled substances: placement of tramadol into Schedule IV (July 2, 2014). DEA Web site. Available at: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/fed_regs/rules/2014/fr0702.htm. Accessed October 4, 2014.
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