Tramadol v/s Gabapentin- Pain Medicine Differences You Should Know

tramadol vs gabapentin
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Differences make things clear, especially in the medical world. If we cannot tap the specific points, it confuses us and, unfortunately, less awareness about medication and health. Often, a single equivalent point can create a bubble where people can use the two drugs simultaneously.

When there is a misconception between two drugs for a similar therapeutic action, their comparison becomes the tricky part. We shall discuss two such drugs in this article.

Gabapentin/Tramadol- What's The Actual Difference?

Gabapentin (brand name Neurontin) is an anticonvulsant that helps treat seizures, epilepsy and restless leg syndrome (RLS). It belongs to the drug class Gabapentinoids and is also used for treating neuropathic pain that follows episodes of shingles and in post-herpetic neuralgia (Goa, K.L. and Sorkin, E.M., 1993).

Tramadol (brand name Ultram) is another medicine for treating moderate to severe pain. It is a synthetic opioid analgesic. It is not an NSAID and does not cause the risk of internal bleeding and stomach ulcer, unlike NSAIDs (Lee, C., McTavish, D. and Sorkin, E.M., 1993).

Characteristics of Tramadol v/s Gabapentin

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant drug used to alleviate post herpetic neuralgia, partial-onset seizures and peripheral neuropathic pains. These are considered substitutes for opioids which are addictive and might have lethal consequences in case of overdose. 

Gabapentin has been classified on Schedule V Controlled Substance lists in 7 states over the last five years. During that same period, 12 other states have placed the drug in their prescription drug monitoring programs (PMP). Three others are in the process of adding the prescription medication to Schedule V lists or state PMPs (Goa, K.L. and Sorkin, E.M., 1993).

Tramadol, on the other hand, is a centrally-acting opioid agonist used to treat moderate to severe pain in adults. It is structurally similar to morphine and codeine. Tramadol is classified as a Schedule IV Controlled Substance.

The peak concentration of Gabapentin is reached within 2-3 hrs, whereas it is 1.6-1.9 hrs for Tramadol. Alcohol is contraindicated with both drugs as its co-administration might potentiate the CNS effects (Lee, C., McTavish, D. and Sorkin, E.M., 1993).

Can Tramadol And Gabapentin Mix Together?

Though both medicines are used in pain management, taking these medicines in combination is not recommended as their interaction is precarious. These drugs are safe to administer when taken alone and individually at different time ranges, but their side effects are amplified when taken in combination. These combination drugs reduces the nerve activity in the spinal cord and brain, which may cause dizziness, sedation, nausea/ vomiting and other adverse effects which includes-

  1. Respiratory depression
  2. Weakness or fatigue
  3. Coma
  4. Difficulty concentration 
  5. Seizures

Besides the above-mentioned side effects, Tramadol and Gabapentin both have the potential for abuse and addiction.

How Should You Take Dose Of Gabapentin versus Tramadol?

Both the medicines shall be taken as per the instructions from the healthcare expert

Gabapentin Dosage:

Gabapentin is available in capsule (100,300, 400mg), tablet (100,300, 400, 600, 800mg), and solution (250 mg/5 ml) form. It should be taken whole with water with or without food. The recommended dosage 

For Adults: 50 mg thrice a day and should not exceed 300 mg/day

For Children: Medical experts shall prescribe drugs after the detailed examination. 

Extended-release tablet: 

Adult: 165 mg once a day and should not exceed 330 mg/day (Goa, K.L. and Sorkin, E.M., 1993).

Tramadol Dosage:

Tramadol is available in tablet, capsule and injection forms. Tablets/ capsules should be swallowed whole with a glass of water and can be taken with or without food. The recommended dose of tramadol immediate-release tablets is 100mg once daily, and it should not exceed 300mg/day. 

The recommended dose of tramadol extended-release tablets is 50-100mg every 4-6 hrs, and it should not exceed 400mg/day.  

The slow-release tablets and capsules take 12-24 hrs to show their effect, whereas tramadol drops or injections and some tablets work within 30-60 min.

Also, it should be noted that Tramadol should be taken prescribed until the recommended period. If you come off this drug suddenly, it might cause withdrawal syndrome.

Overdose of any of these medicines should be avoided as it can cause unpleasant side effects (Lee, C., McTavish, D. and Sorkin, E.M., 1993).

Overdosage and side effects of Gabapentin or Tramadol

Drug overdose usually happens when a patient takes more than the prescribed dose accidentally or intentionally. Intentional overdosing may represent a suicidal attempt. It can be accidental for youth or small children who take excess medicine out of curiosity or when a person forgets about the last dose taken and repeats the previous amount. This affects the person physically, mentally and emotionally.

Usually, in drug overdose, the effect is the increased level of therapeutic action seen with daily use. A more significant overdose of some medicines causes a minimal effect, while small overdoses of some drugs can even cause lethal effects. Problems with vital signs (respiratory rate, pulse rate, blood pressure, temperature) are possible and can be life-threatening. Some drugs can even damage organs; skin can be cool, dry, sweaty or hot; sleepiness, delirium, and abdominal pain are prevalent.

The symptoms of gabapentin and tramadol overdose include-

  1. Loss of consciousness
  2. Clammy and pale skin
  3. Black or blue lips
  4. Slow heart rate
  5. Difficulty breathing
  6. Gurgling
  7. Unresponsiveness
  8. Nausea/vomiting
  9. Unidentifiable pulse

In case of any symptoms observed, it is advised to seek immediate help from a medical expert.

User Reviews of Gabapentin and Tramadol

Both the drugs are safe, reliable and effective and show varying levels of therapeutic action from person to person.

Gabapentin has an average rating of 7.1 out of 10. From 2328 ratings, 64% of reviewers reported a positive effect, while 21% reported a negative impact.

Tramadol has an average rating of 6.8 out of 10 from 1719 ratings. 60% of reviewers reported a positive effect, while 25% reported a negative impact.

Which Is Better For Pain, Gabapentin Or Tramadol?

Gabapentin and Tramadol both are prescription-only medicine for alleviating different types of pain. Gabapentin is used in seizures. On the other hand, Tramadol effectively treats both general and nerve pain. Cause sedation. It may also be used for depression, Anxiety, OCD, fibromyalgia.

Togetherly we can say medicine is distinguished in many of its attributes. There is no unit that is better than others. The strength can matter. Gabapentin and Tramadol are helpful in their places.

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