Pain Home > What Is Tramadol/Acetaminophen Used For?
Tramadol/acetaminophen is used for the short-term treatment of pain. It is generally used for treating pain due to an injury, surgery, or dental procedure. However, healthcare providers may also occasionally recommend off-label tramadol/acetaminophen uses, such as for the treatment of chronic pain. At this time, the medication is not approved for use in children.
An Overview of Tramadol/Acetaminophen Uses
Tramadol/acetaminophen (Ultracet®) is a prescription medication approved for short-term pain relief (five days or fewer). It is not appropriate for long-term use.
Typically, tramadol/acetaminophen is used to treat pain that is likely to improve quickly, such as pain due to an injury, surgery, or dental procedure. Tramadol/acetaminophen contains tramadol, an opioid related to codeine, which is classified as a controlled substance in the United States. It was initially promoted as a pain reliever with little potential for abuse (based on early studies), but practical experience with the drug suggests that it probably does have significant abuse potential (see Addiction to Ultracet for more information).
How Does Tramadol/Acetaminophen Work?
Tramadol/acetaminophen contains two different medications: acetaminophen and tramadol hydrochloride. Tramadol is an opioid pain reliever. It is not entirely clear how tramadol works to relieve pain. One of the metabolites of tramadol/acetaminophen can bind to opioid receptors (much like morphine) and may also have effects on serotonin and norepinephrine (important brain chemicals).
Acetaminophen ("APAP") is a pain reliever and fever reducer commonly found in non-prescription medications such as Tylenol®. "APAP" is an acronym for one of the chemical names for acetaminophen. Combining tramadol with acetaminophen helps improve the combination drug's effectiveness at relieving pain.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Schedules of controlled substances: placement of tramadol into Schedule IV (July 2, 2014). DEA Web site. Available at: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/fed_regs/rules/2014/fr0702.htm. Accessed October 4, 2014.
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