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Tramadol: What Is It & Does It Cure Migraines?

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Jul 1, 2014 7:00:00 AM

The world of professional and competitive cycling has undergone a lot of scrutiny due to the scandalous reports of performance-enhancement drug use among stars of the sport. One of the most infamous cases in this regard involves American racer Lance Armstrong, but current news headlines are being made by former British professional racer Michael Barry, who rode for the Sky Team and confessed to have furtively used Tramadol while racing in 2010.

Although Tramadol is known as a medication used for the treatment of chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and migraine headaches, Michael Barry claimed that his fellow Sky Team racers took the medication for the purpose of easing the pain on their legs during competition. Barry reported a feeling of relief and euphoria when taking Tramadol during a race, but he also mentioned losing focus as a side effect. Although Tramadol is not listed as one of the medications banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, cycling officials are now looking closely at the allegations made by Barry.

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Understanding Tramadol

Tramadol is a prescription medication that is often recommended for the treatment of pain conditions. This medication is unique in the sense that pharmaceutical and medical researchers are not 100 percent sure of how Tramadol interacts with pain and provides relief. Tramadol is an opioid analgesic, but it also has certain effects that conform to serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake-inhibiting (SSRI) medications.

Emergency rooms in many parts of the world keep injectable Tramadol in stock for patients who report moderate pain. Patients who suffer from chronic migraines may be prescribed Tramadol as part of a reactive pain management strategy. This means that migraine patients who experience headache episodes preceded by auras more than twice a month are the most likely to benefit from Tramadol.

Two of the names used to market Tramadol include Ultram and Uiltracet. The latter also contains acetaminophen, which is an over-the-counter analgesic often recommended for the treatment of migraines as well. In a 2005 study performed by researchers of Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, the effectiveness of Ultracet among migraine patients was confirmed under a randomized trial study that included placebos. The findings of the study determined that Ultracet is an effective medication for the treatment of:
  • Chronic migraine headache episodes
  • Migraine-induced sensitivity to light
  • Migraine-induced sensitivity to sound

Based on the findings above, migraine patients who are prescribed Ultracet can take the recommended dosage as soon as they feel the unpleasant onset of an aura. The pain-relieving effects of Tramadol are felt by most patients within an hour of taking the medication.

Side Effects of Tramadol

Despite the effectiveness of Tramadol as a medication to treat migraine episodes, Ultracet does nothing to relieve the feelings of nausea experience by many patients. In fact, Tramadol could actually cause feelings of dizziness, nausea and vertigo. The feelings of euphoria and lack of focus reported by the British Sky Team rider may also be experienced by some migraine patients. Since Tramadol works in a fashion similar to SSRI antidepressants, some patients may develop a physical dependency that can be managed with treatment.

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