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Tramadol Withdrawal

phurrballepphurrballe Posts: 57
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in Pain Medications
Hi - I had 2 back surgeries this past summer after a back injury in Fall of 2010. I was prescribed tramadol for pain. It worked well for me. I was on a lower dose 37.5 mg X 1 or 2 depending on pain, twice a day. I was told this medication did not have addicitive qualities. That is WRONG! So now, there are times when my back is not that bad and I do not need that dose of tramadol right away and try to delay it, I start having withdrawal symptoms - achy body, sweats, jittery, skin feels like creepy crawly, brain zaps. That is it for me...I am going to try and wean off. Is there any rememdy or tips that I can use for tramadol withdrawal symptoms as I wean myself off it? Should I try antihistimines? I was on an antidepressant message board to discuss w/d from Effexor and many there used benedryl - I tried it and it worked well for me but not sure it would apply here. I am a littl eafraid to take that on top of the tramadol. even though i am weaning off. I am struggling with this though as I am very uncomfortable until I take the next does on this reduced schedule. What angers me is that through my research, I saw many people using tramadol were told the same thing - it is non-narcotic and not addicting. Many are on much higher doses than I but if I can feel this crappy on my low dose, I can just imagine how others are feeling. Any thoughts anyone? Thank in advance.

I am looking at other pain maanagement options which do not involve this type of medication. I am going to see about more injections and/or nerve ablation as when my back is bad, I still have great amount of pain and sciatic pain down my left hip and leg, with resulting leg weakness. Thank you again. I came here alot in June when I had my fusion surgery and the subsequent dural nerve tear surgery that had to be the worst pain in my life. :(

Love and Happy Holidays to all of you.
Lee Ellen


  • You're Dr. can help by ordering smaller doses of Tramadol so you can wean off it. Tramadol is a narcotic. I get the same side effects if I miss my narcotic med after about 16 hours. I'm going to a new Pain Management center and hope to try RFA also.

    I hope you heal completely from your surgery and hope your Dr. has ordered some tests especially if you're having new leg weakness. Nerve pain meds like Lyrica or Amitriptyline work for sciatica. I hope you can get some relief soon. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • If you are getting withdrawal symptoms, a visit with your doctor would be wise. I am sure he can help you with a weaning schedule. Even if you just make a phone call to his office, someone should be able to help you.

    I take tramadol, (2) 50mg pills 3 x day. I have absolutely no side effects from it. My sister was recently prescribed a smaller dose, and after taking 2 doses, she quit. The effect it had on her was bad. Strange how some of us don't have any symptoms or withdrawals, others do.

    I have had several doctors comment that tramadol is NON-narcotic. It also is not controlled by the DEA like the other pain meds are. I have a prescription of percocet that I use occasionally now, and my doctor said that once we cross from trams to percocets, that he has to notify the government and I am subject to random urine screening. I wonder why doctors don't view trams as narcotic. I know it certainly doesn't give me the same effect a narcotic med would.
    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Thanks Charry. I just started back on neurontin. I had bad side effects from Lyrica and when I first tried neurontin, it did nothing but make me tired. At this point, I decided to retry it. It does reduce the frequency and amount of need for the tramadol (slightly or maybe it is just in my head) but with that reduction comes the withdrawal feelings from the lesser tramadol. Ugh!

    Lee Ellen
  • Cindy, I was reading the same thing - tramadol is NOT narcotic. I think that is why my doctor was so free about prescribing it. I am ok with that - last thing we need is having doctors scared to prescribe pain medication for fear of legal action.

    I tolerate the tramadol well. It works pretty good for the pain and I have no digestive issues with it except for constipation. But not taking that dose on time, forget about it! I spread the time between doses further today and I was suffering. I only took half a 37.5 pill at about 11 AM and it was enough to take away the withdrawal symptoms, which is really amazing. I read from several to reduce 10% per week. Since I only took 150 mg for the whole day, the weaning will go quick (I hope).

    Thank you again
  • Tramadol is unique in that it is a 'dual-action' analgesic: it has both an opioid (narcotic) effect and a non-opioid effect (similar to the newer antidepressants such as Effexor). By definition, tramadol is still considered an opioid drug, because it works on opioid receptors - it's just not a typical one. It can certainly cause withdrawal symptoms.

    It's odd that tramadol isn't more controlled than it is (in some countries it's a Schedule IV drug). Tapentadol (Nucynta) is basically an updated version of tramadol and it was immediately listed as a Schedule II drug.
  • Thanks Huggy; Yes it is odd it is not a controlled substance. The thing is I never get a high from it which would have stopped me from taking it from the start. I have read on various forums however where people are taking massive doses of tram for the high. I typically take a total of 150 mg a day and never have any side effects at all and it seems to work well for me, for which I was thankful for. But I was pretty horrified about the withdrawal symptoms. I am going to see my internist as soon as he can ge tme in to discuss a weaning schedule but honestly, I noticed the back pain getting the better of me on the delayed schedule too.

    Can someome typically take something like tram for the rest of their lives? Is that common for people with chronic pain? I am wondering about fybro patients that have constant pain....

    I don't know - the tram makes my back feel like I can function but I hate that issue that I have to take it even during times when I do nto need it for pain because of the withdrawal symptoms. I am in a conflict here as you can see :(

    Lee Ellen
  • The tramadol should not require an increase in dosage. I have taken the same dose since 2008, and it is still effective. Tramadol does not control all of my pain, and honestly there are days that I spend totally down because of the pain, but it helps and I don't want to rely on a heavier medication, so this is my routine one. As I mentioned previously, I do have a bottle of percocet now, and I occasionally will take it, but I am VERY careful with that one. Percocet is one of the meds that requires an increase as the body gets adjusted to taking it, and I just don't want to go there.

    I have never gotten a "high" from tramadol, nor do I feel any sleepiness, etc. I don't feel withdrawal symptoms if I skip a dose either, so I'm a little surprised that some people do. My doctor said this is the safest pain medication he prescribes. He is hesitant to bump people to the narcotic meds. He does not consider this one a narcotic.

    On this particular med, I tend to agree with the others that if it helps you, take it. You didn't say how long you have been using it. If you could perhaps get to the point that you only take it morning and night, that would help you to feel better about it. 37.5 mg is not very much. I take 100 mg at a time, 3 x per day, sometimes 4, depending on my pain levels.

    Good luck.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Thanks Cindy. I have been on the tramadol since December 2010 - just a year now. I guess some people's bodies tolerate it better when it is stopped. I have read so many forums in which people experience the same as I. Believe me, up until a week or two ago, I myself had no clue.

    To be honest, someone I know has a son who abuses prescription drugs and they had him in detox. When he was coming off the pain meds, his symptoms were such as I described and it made me think about what I felt. This was just a few weeks ago but I had experienced these symptoms during the summer - just never put 2 and 2 together until now. Guess I was a little naive.

    It really helps me so I am a little torn as to what to do as I get pain reduction within 30 minutes of taking it. And I too have no need to take more than what I am taking. I do usually only take 37.5 in the morning and same around 4 PM although on bad pain days I have to take another dose or take 2 at night.

    I will be more aware now and will speak to my internist and get his opinion. Thanks again

    Lee Ellen
  • Part of the withdrawal from this drug is due to the Cymbalta-like component of the medication. When this is stopped suddenly you can feel very sick. You can also manage this by starting on Prozac and then weaning off the Prozac. The Prozac contains some, but not all, of the active antidepressant component of the Tramadol. This is how I had to get off Nucynta. It wasn't the opiate withdrawal that was killing me it was the SNRI (Cymbalta, Effexor) withdrawal.
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