Tramadol --Too Dangerous for
Your Health?

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July 14, 2015
By  Joseph Strongoli, Featured Columnist






Imagine waking up post-operation, and taking the pills your
doctor prescribed to alleviate your pain. Then imagine
experiencing vomiting, seizures, difficulty breathing and
swallowing, hallucinations, loss of consciousness,
depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Imagine, in caring for a loved one, giving them a daily
prescription from your trusted family physician to ease their
chronic pain. Then imagine them becoming mentally and
physically dependent on this painkiller, addicted to a drug
with nasty side-effects and a vicious withdrawal.

These are the harrowing risks packed into a little pill called
tramadol.

Tramadol, often marketed as "Ultram" or "Ultracet", is an
opioid analgesic used to relieve moderate to moderately
severe pain. It is used in the treatment of acute pain, such as
pain related to surgery, childbirth, physical trauma, or
migraine headaches. It is also frequently prescribed to treat
chronic pain such as pancreatitis, osteoarthritis, neuropathy,
and chronic lower back pain.

Like heroin, tramadol is a synthetic opioid, designed after
natural opioids, such as morphine and opium, which are
derived from poppy seeds. Tramadol acts on the central
nervous system (CNS), affecting your pain receptors and
changing how your body feels and responds to pain.

A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing?



























In 1994,  the Drug Abuse Advisory Committee (DAAC) of the
FDA concluded that Tramadol could be marketed as an
analgesic drug without scheduling under the Controlled
Substance Act.

Effectively, this meant that Tramadol entered the market
with no restrictions or warnings.

Since then, Tramadol has been marketed as the safer
alternative to more potent analgesics such as morphine and
dilaudid, and because of this, there has been a massive
increase in the prescription of Tramadol relative to other
opioid analgesics, like hydrocodone and oxycodone.

In 2012 alone, 40 million prescriptions for tramadol were
written for patients in the U.S., according to the Department
of Health and Human Services. Worldwide, exposure levels
are even greater. The WHO reported that in 2003 and 2004
alone Tramadol exposure was approximately 1.55 billion
patient treatment days.

Tramadol -- an Increased Suicide Risk

But the sheep’s wool is beginning to unravel, revealing sharp
teeth and claws underneath.  Over the course of those 1.55
billion patient treatment days in a 2 year period, there were
a reported 22,753 cases of adverse effects, including 253
cases of death, and 12 cases of sudden death.

On May 25, 2010, the FDA strengthened its warnings on
Tramadol, emphasizing that the drug has been linked with an
increased risk of suicide:

"The strengthened Warnings information emphasizes the
risk of suicide for patients who are addiction-prone, taking
tranquilizers or antidepressant drugs and also warns of the
risk of overdosage. "



In addition to the growth in the medical use of Tramadol,
there has also been a staggering concomitant growth in the
nonmedical use (i.e., recreational, or misuse) of the drug.  A
2010 study at the Kentucky Regional Poison Center of
domestic poison emergencies in 4 states (Arkansas,
Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia) found that from 2003-2009
the number of tramadol poisonings increased from 401 to
1009 cases per year.  In the entire nation there were over
16,000 Tramadol-related visits to the emergency room in
2010 alone.

Apart from some of the side effects mentioned above,
studies found that patients who abruptly discontinued
Tramadol use suffered from classical opioid withdrawal
symptoms (low energy, irritability, anxiety, agitation,
insomnia, vomiting, diarrhea), and in some cases, atypical
withdrawal symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia,
extreme anxiety, panic attacks, confusion and unusual
sensory experiences such as numbness and tingling in one or
more extremities.

In light of these new findings, Tramadol has been placed
into Schedule IV of the Federal Controlled Substances Act by
the DEA, putting restrictions on its sale, medical usage and
prescriptability. If you suffer chronic or acute pain, review
your options with your doctor before agreeing to use
Tramadol as treatment.

As we learn more about the alarming dangers of certain
prescription pain relievers such as Tramadol (increased
suicide risk), we are happy to see that scientists are finding
natural ways to relieve pain.

Here are 7 of the best-studied alternative methods for
treating pain.


1.        
Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient technique found in Traditional
Chinese Medicine. It consists of inserting needles into
strategic places in the body to stimulate and influence these
acupuncture points.

Long dismissed as a pseudoscience in the Western world,
acupuncture has recently been redeemed for having
measurable, quantifiable effects in comparison with placebo,
according to a 2010 study by Dr. A. Hopton et al., at the
University of York in the U.K.

Specifically, acupuncture has been found to be effective in
treating pain related to cancer, carpal tunnel syndrome,
fibromyalgia, childbirth, musculoskeletal injuries,
osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

2.        
Hypnosis

If sticking needles into your body isn’t your thing however,
there are other more relaxing ways to relieve pain.  Hypnosis
puts you into a state of deep relaxation that allows you to
‘separate’ yourself from physical sensations such as pain. A
2009 study by Dr. G. Elkins et al., at Texas A&M University
found hypnosis to be more effective than other types of pain
intervention such as attention therapy and physical therapy.

Hypnosis has been found to relieve pain associated with post-
surgery and child-labor,
arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia,
irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, and tension
headaches.

3.        
Chiropractic

Chiropractic medicine aims to treat mechanical disorders of
the musculoskeletal system, particularly the spine, under the
idea that these disorders affect general health through the
nervous system. The main technique involves manual
therapy such as manipulation of the spine, joints, and soft
tissues to promote bone and muscle realignment, blood and
synovial fluid flow, and stretching.

The stereotype of the quack chiropractor breaking your
neck, while humorous, is a little overblown. A 2012 study
published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine found that
chiropractic therapy had a greatly positive effect on lower
back pain and function in elderly patients.



4.        
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation

Also called TENS for short, this modern method for pain
control consists in the use of electric current to excite
nerves.

Electrodes placed on the skin send electrical pulses to your
nerve endings, effectively blocking out pain signals. It is a
little like controlled electrocution in order to drown out the
pain signals in your body.

A 2009 study at the Federal University of Sergipe in Brazil
found that TENS was effective in reducing pain associated
with a plethora of conditions, including chronic
musculoskeletal pain, postoperative pain, rheumatoid
arthritis,
lower back pain, osteoarthritis, anklyosing
spondylitis, and myofascial pain.

5.        
Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a way to combine the futuristic technology of
TENS with Eastern Mind-Body meditative techniques. Using
electrical sensors placed all over your body, a machine
motors your body in real time giving you information on vital
signs such as your blood pressure, breathing rate, heart
rate, etc.

The feedback helps you to focus on making subtle changes
in your body, such as lowering your heart rate,
blood
pressure
, or relaxing certain muscles; in essence it helps you
to control unconscious bodily functions.

Biofeedback has been shown to help with migraine
headaches, muscle spasms, chronic body pain, fibromyalgia,
and other conditions.

A 2010 study at the Cleveland Clinic by Dr. D. Frank et al.,
found that biofeedback is becoming a more accepted and
widespread practice as its many uses are uncovered,
including improving the quality of life and clinical status in
patients with coronary artery disease, diabetes, and multiple
sclerosis.

6.        
Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy has been around for ages, at least since the
Ancient Egyptians, who also used it for pain management.  
Essential oils such as lavender oil, chamomile oil, african
marigold oil, and peppermint oil can be inhaled, directly with
an inhaler or indirectly, with a room diffuser, or massaged
into the skin.

Some studies have shown a decrease in pain in patients in
labor, and patients with chronic pain. One study theorizes
that aromatherapy enhances the parasympathetic response
through touch and smell, encouraging relaxation, which can
alter the perception of pain.

A 2014 study from researchers at the Hong Kong Polytechnic
University in Hong Kong found  that aromatherapy is an
effective tool to reduce pain, depression, anxiety, and stress-
levels.


7.        
Red Peppers and Other Foods That Kill Pain

Many foods have long been recognized as pain fighters.
Capsaicin, the main ingredient in chili peppers, has been
shown to help with arthritis and diabetic nerve pain, among
other conditions. For example, a 2014 study from the
University of Oxford led by Dr. Sheena Derry found that
repeated use of low dose (8% concentration) capsaicin
cream does indeed help to relieve neuropathic (nerve) pain
in many cases.

Glucosamine sulfate can alleviate moderate to severe pain
from
osteoarthritis in the knee.

Various types of sea food and extracts have long been
associated with reducing painful inflammation
Fish oil, green
lipped mussels
and krill pain relief all are supported by well-
designed medical studies.
  Comfort foods, like mashed
potatoes, ice cream, and macaroni and cheese, can help too.
They contain easily-digested carbohydrates that convert to
serotonin in the body, producing a soothing and calming
effect on the brain. Don’t overdo it though, as these foods
can lead to weight gain.





Related:
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