When Aspirin Isn't Enough
It's surprising how clearly we can recall getting hurt. Years later, we can recount our first fall from a too-tempting tree, a bee-sting, the birth of a child. We can even tell humorous stories about those events because the pain was transient ? it passed.
But many illnesses and conditions can make pain a daily visitor, interfering with our jobs, family lives, even sleep. Even ancient people tried to relieve the devastation of chronic pain using surgeries and medicinal herbs. By the 1800s, people started using narcotics (drugs like opium) to reduce pain. Even the narcotic heroin was originally developed as a pain medication! But many narcotics were found to be addictive, to interfere with digestion and mood, and even to slow or stop breathing!
Fortunately for us, modern research has uncovered safer pain-relief drugs for chronic conditions. One of these drugs is Ultram (the generic drug Ultram contains is called tramadol). Ultram's effect on your body is similar to the effect of narcotics and is as effective in relieving pain. But since it isn't a narcotic, it doesn't have as many of the side-effects which have made medical narcotic use so dangerous.
The Wonder Woman of Pain Control?
Ultram can help manage pain from many sources, just like comic-book superheroes can foil thieves, kidnappers, and polluters! Ultram can reduce pain from cancer, spinal problems (kyphosis, scoliosis), arthritis ?even surgery !. Some physicians report using it to help people with severe, chronic headaches and endometriosis.
The Dark Side of Ultram
While Ultram is not a narcotic, both physicians and patients have reported cases of dependence on it. Signs of dependence (addiction) include getting tolerant to the dose (not getting the effect you used to from one pill), a continuing feeling that the dose needs to be increased, and withdrawal symptoms (sleeplessness, jitteriness, mood disorders) if you stop taking the drug. Checking in with your physician regularly while on this medication helps both of you notice any symptoms of addiction so you can stop any problems before they start!
The other effects of Ultram tend to be mild and transient. You might notice dizziness, drowsiness, stomach or intestinal distress (usually constipation). People taking Ultram are discouraged from driving ? driving under it's influence is a bit like driving after having a few drinks. Ultram requires a prescription, so while you're talking with your doctor about using it, schedule a regular time to discuss any side-effects or difficulties you experience while on this medication.
Control the Medication - Don't Let It Control You
How can you benefit from this drug while minimizing its risks? First, when deciding whether to start on Ultram, be candid with your physician about any dependence issues with alcohol or other drugs you've had. People who have struggled with other addictions may be more susceptible to Ultram dependence. Remember - your physician is on your side and telling her about your history will help her tailor pain medications to your needs!
Second, be aware that Ultram is pretty powerful stuff and treat it with respect! Any change in dose should be discussed with your doctor; mild drowsiness at one dose can become a deadly blackout in another. Never "lend" this drug to a friend, even if he's in great pain ? what works for you could be fatal for him.
Thirdly, make sure that you tell your physician about other drugs you're taking: many drugs (including alcohol and over-the-counter medications) can enhance the effect of Ultram, making it act like you're taking a much bigger dose.
These sound like dire warnings, but remember: by working with your physician, this drug can be a powerful tool to help you reach the active, pain-free life you were meant to have.
Copyright (C) Shoppe.MD and Ian Mason, 2004-2005
Ian Mason, owner of Shoppe.MD, your source for ultram, drug information and ultram forums.
Ian is a fat-to-fit student of health, weight loss, exercise, and several martial arts; maintaining several websites in an effort to help provide up-to-date and helpful information for other who share his interests in health of body and mind.