Tramadol in Musculoskeletal Pain - A Survey
E. Reig A1
A1 Pain Unit, Clínica Puerta de Hierro, University Hospital, Madrid, Spain
Abstract: The three-step analgesic ladder, originally proposed for cancer pain relief by the World Health Organization (WHO), is now widely employed for all types of pain, including the chronic pain of musculoskeletal disease. Tramadol, an analgesic with weak opioid receptor affinity and possessing monoaminergic activity, has proved suitable for use at Step 2 of the WHO ladder. Owing to its pharmacological properties, tramadol is more appropriate than NSAIDs for patients suffering from gastrointestinal and renal problems. Importantly, the analgesic potency of tramadol is greater than that of NSAIDs and of other weak opioids (codeine, dextropropoxyphene). It also causes fewer opioid-type adverse effects, e.g. nausea, drowsiness, vomiting, dry mouth and constipation. In chronic musculoskeletal pain it is recommended that tramadol should be given by mouth and by the clock; the initial dose should be titrated upward gradually to reach the individual level required for suitable pain control. This dosage strategy will also minimise the usual opioid-type adverse effects encountered with tramadol. Four recent publications are reviewed to illustrate the efficacy of tramadol, alone or in conjunction with an NSAID, in the management of low back pain, osteoarthritis pain and breakthrough pain.
Key words:Analgesic ladder - Clinical efficacy - Musculoskeletal pain - Tramadol - Ultram