What Is Tapentadol Used For?
Tapentadol is approved to treat acute pain (such as surgical pain or pain caused by an injury) in people over the age of 18. Occasionally, a healthcare provider may recommend this product for "off-label" uses, which is when a drug is used for a purpose other than the one it is licensed for. With tapentadol, off-label uses include the treatment of chronic pain.
An Introduction to the Uses of TapentadolTapentadol (Nucynta™) is a prescription analgesic (pain reliever). It is approved to treat moderate-to-severe acute pain. Acute pain is short-term pain caused by damage to tissues; it can be caused by a surgery, an illness, or an injury. The pain starts suddenly and goes away once the damage heals.
Tapentadol might be used to treat surgical pain, dental pain after a painful procedure, sports injury pain, or various other types of acute pain.
How Does Tapentadol Work?Tapentadol is classified as a "centrally acting opioid analgesic." This means that it works in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), acts much like morphine in the body, and relieves pain. Much like morphine, tapentadol binds to certain opioid receptors in the body known as μ ("mu") receptors.
Tapentadol also works a little like some antidepressant medications by inhibiting the reuptake of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is one of several chemicals used to send messages from one nerve cell to another. As a message travels down a nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release norepinephrine. The norepinephrine enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it.
When enough norepinephrine reaches the second nerve cell, it activates receptors on the cell and the message continues on its way. The first cell then quickly absorbs any norepinephrine that remains in the gap between cells; this is called "reuptake." By inhibiting reuptake of norepinephrine, tapentadol essentially increases its activity.