How Does Ultram Work?
Ultram's success as a pain killer arises from the fact that it resembles codeine in the sense that
it is an opiate. This drug binds to the brain's opioid receptors, which is a portion of the DNA
sequence where scientists discovered morphine attaches to the gene. Because morphine is a product of opium, the receptors became known as “opioids”. These opioid receptors let the
body know when it feels pain, whether in the brain or in organs. Synthetically created, Ultram
changes how the body feels pain. Although it reduces pain, Ultram is not a nonsteroidal antiinflammatory
drug (NSAID), like aspirin or ibuprofen.
One result of Ultram usage is the release of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that scientists
believe regulates sleep, mood and appetite. In other words, the patient who takes Ultram may
feel happier or in a better mood. Another result with Ultram usage is that it interferes with the
brain's realization that the body has released norepinephrine, the stress hormone responsible
for the flight-or-fight response of animals. The release of norepinephrine causes an increase of
glucose and blood flow in the blood stream, and a faster heart rate. This gives the body extra
energy. Ultram slows down the release of these hormones, leading the body into believing the
pain experienced doesn't actually exist.
A third aspect of Ultram is that it reduces the speed of the brain's 5-HT2C receptors, which is
where serotonin is located. This means that feelings of depression or anxiety that can happen
when a patient experiences pain, may be reduced by Ultram, creating a more comfortable patient.
The most important result from taking Ultram is that pain is reduced without any accompanying
feeling of being dazed or drugged. Any patient taking Ultram who feels excessive drowsiness,
headaches or stomach cramping should inform a physician immediately (See Ultram Side Effects
in a section below).
Common Ultram Dosage
The amount of Ultram prescribed most often by doctors is 50 milligrams in the form of
immediate release pills, which are taken every four to six hours. There is a maximum of 400
milligrams in one 24-hour time frame. To control the possible side effects of Ultram, doctors
frequently prescribe a beginning dose of 25 milligrams, to be taken once every day. At the end of
three days, doctors may increase the dosage to two 25-milligram pills per day. If no side effects
are experienced, the number of 25-milligram pills increases to three at the beginning of the
After the patient reaches 200 milligrams of the drug in a day, a medical professional should
monitor the patient to make sure he or she doesn’t experience addiction to Ultram. Because of
the potential for addiction, the dosage should not exceed 300 milligrams every day.
If started with a low dosage that increases gradually, adults tend to experience fewer side effects.
Beginning at a lower dosage also allows the patient to reach the proper amount that best controls
the pain. People over 65 years of age should begin taking Ultram in low doses. For patients over 75 years of age, Ultram should never be taken in a dose of more than 300 milligrams daily.
Ultram causes gastrointestinal problems in approximately 17 percent of patients over 65, and
approximately 30 percent of people over 75. For about 10 percent of people over 75, constipation
becomes a serious enough issue that they have to stop using Ultram.
With a dosage of 400 milligrams daily, serious and possibly fatal side effects can occur. Fatality
can occur if a one-time dose of Ultram in the range of 300 milligrams is taken, without prior
buildup in the system. Deaths linked to daily dosages of around 500 to 1,000 milligrams have
People with kidney or liver problems should remain on low dosages of Ultram. Patients younger
than 16 should not use Ultram. Only the person with the prescription should take this drug.
Ultram is not meant to be shared with others. Also, Ultram should not be taken at a later time for
a condition other than it was prescribed for, because of the chance of side effects. Use caution if
taking Ultram with other drugs. For more information, see Ultram Side Effects discussed below.