Moderate to moderately severe pain in adults can often be managed by using Ultram. It works in a similar manner as morphine and some antidepressants, affecting certain chemicals in the brain and working in the central nervous system.
What Is Ultram Used For?Ultram® (tramadol hydrochloride) is a prescription medication used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain.
Originally, Ultram was marketed as a medication with weak narcotic effects and little potential for abuse and was not initially classified as a controlled substance. As a result, many healthcare providers came to view Ultram as a relatively safe medication for use in people at risk for drug abuse, such as people with previous problems with drug or alcohol abuse. However, research has since demonstrated that Ultram works primarily through morphine-like activity, and numerous cases of abuse and dependence have been reported (see Tramadol Abuse).
As of July 2014, Ultram is a Schedule IV controlled substance. This means there are certain rules that regulate the prescribing and use of this medication, put in place to avoid abuse.
How Does Ultram Work?Ultram 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, Ultram binds to certain opioid receptors in the body known as μ ("mu") receptors.
Ultram also works in a similar manner as some antidepressant medications, by inhibiting the reuptake of certain brain chemicals (serotonin and norepinephrine). Serotonin and norepinephrine are two 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 serotonin or norepinephrine. The chemical enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it. When enough serotonin or 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 serotonin or norepinephrine that remains in the gap between cells. This is called "reuptake."