Tramadol hydrochloride is the primary ingredient in several medications prescribed by health care providers for the management of moderate to severe pain. Through its effects on the central nervous system, tramadol works to alter and control your perception of pain. There are several pharmaceutical preparations available, depending on your type of pain and individual needs in controlling it.
Tramadol and Tramadol XR
The only active ingredient in conventional and extended-release, or XR, tramadol tablets is tramadol hydrochloride. Conventional tramadol tablets contain 50 mg of the medication. The tablets are scored for ease of splitting, as your doctor may prescribe a lower or higher dosage depending on your needs. In terms of safety, you may take 50 to 100 mg of this preparation, not to exceed 400 mg per day. Available in 100 mg, 200 mg and 300 mg tablets, extended-release preparations of tramadol require only once-daily dosing. Because release of the medication occurs slowly over a period of time, repeat dosing every four to six hours is not necessary. Extended-release tramadol is safe in dosages up to 300 mg per day.
Acetaminophen is a commonly used over-the-counter pain reliever. If your doctor feels that you may benefit from additional pain relief beyond what tramadol alone can provide, she may prescribe you a tramadol/acetaminophen combination tablet. This formulation contains 37.5 mg of tramadol hydrochloride and 325 mg of acetaminophen, and you may safely take up to eight combination tablets in divided doses per day. These are the only two active ingredients in this type of tramadol preparation.
In addition to tramadol and/or acetaminophen, there are also several other inactive ingredients in tramadol tablets. Manufacturers use these ingredients in several ways, including to coat, fill and preserve the medication. Specific inactive ingredients in tramadol preparations include magnesium stearate, anhydrous lactose, hypromellose, polyethylene glycol and titanium dioxide. Colloidiol silicon dioxide, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium starch glycolate and polysorbate 80 are other inactive ingredients commonly used in the manufacturing of tramadol medications.
Tramadol hydrochloride may affect your coordination and mental alertness. Therefore, you should avoid activities such as driving until your personal tolerance to the medication is fully understood. You must swallow extended-release formulations of tramadol whole. Chewing or crushing of the tablet causes immediate release of the entire dosage into your system, which can potentially result in overdose. Overdose can also result from taking doses of any tramadol preparation more often than prescribed. Because tramadol is a central nervous system, or CNS, depressant, avoid concurrent use of the medication with other CNS depressants, such as alcohol and other sedatives.