Opioids are constantly in the spotlight over the past decade, and not necessarily in a positive way. The country is being gripped by what’s called an opioid epidemic, and tens of millions of Americans are addicted to everything from prescription painkillers to illicit opioids like heroin. Despite the attention given to the drug class of opioids, not as much is known about Ultram.

Ultram is an opioid-like prescription drug, but it’s different from a lot of other opioids because it changes the way the brain perceives pain, but it also alters norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. This means Ultram has some mood-altering effects.

Below we’ll answer the question as to whether or not Ultram is a NSAID, which is a common question and also highlight some of the important things to know about Ultram in general.

Is Ultram a NSAID?

If you look online, you’ll see that there’s a lot of confusion as to whether or not Ultram is a NSAID. The short answer is no, Ultram is not a NSAID. We’ll cover what a NSAID is, why there’s confusion and what Ultram is.

First, NSAIDs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These medicines are separate from opioids although they do fight pain. They are also classified as non-opioid analgesics. NSAIDs are used for pain that’s less severe and doesn’t require narcotic opioids. Most NSAIDs are available over the counter, and they work not only pain, aches and cramps, but also fever and swelling.

They fight inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to injuries and infection.

NSAIDs fight pain by directly reducing inflammation, and some of the most common over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen and aspirin. There are also some prescription NSAIDs which include Oxaprozin, naproxen, and etodolac.

These broadly classified drugs have different chemical structures from one another, but in general, they reduce fever and high temperature, lower inflammation and reduce pain. They slow the formation of prostaglandins, which are compounds that play a key role in inflammation. They also have anti-clotting properties.

Ultram is not a NSAID and is instead an opioid. Opioid drugs are available by prescription and are controlled substances. They work in a completely different way from NSAIDs. They’re used to treat more severe pain that can’t be treated by something like a NSAID, and they bind to the opioid receptors in the central nervous system. Opioids including Ultram reduce pain messages being sent to the brain and reduce the sensation of pain a person is experiencing.

Opioids are effective at relieving pain, but they also have risks include the risk of abuse and overdose because they slow the central nervous system. Along with Ultram, other commonly prescribed opioids include codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone.

Why Do People Think Ultram is a NSAID?

Ultram is completely different from a NSAID in essentially every way. Ultram is not available over-the-counter, it is an opioid narcotic, and it carries the risk of abuse and addiction. Ultram is also more potent than a NSAID and relieves pain differently.

So why do people often think Ultram is a NSAID?

It could be because they confuse it with a brand name drug called Toradol. Toradol is a NSAID that reduces the hormones that cause inflammation and pain, and it’s actually used to treat moderate to severe pain. The reason people may confuse Toradol and Ultram is because Ultram is actually the brand name of tramadol.

Things to Know About Tramadol

In addition to the fact that Ultram is not a NSAID and is instead an opioid, what else should you know?

First, Ultram acts similarly to morphine but is significantly less potent, and it is often used to treat arthritis pain. It’s a Schedule IV controlled substance, and it’s available in immediate and extended release versions. The extended release version of Ultram is for chronic pain that requires around-the-clock, long-term treatment.

Ultram can have interactions with other drugs including MAOIs and depressants including alcohol, tranquilizers, and sedatives. Some of the side effects of Ultram can include nausea, constipation, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, and vomiting.

As a narcotic opioid, Ultram may also lead to a physical dependence meaning when people take it they need to be gradually weaned off it to avoid withdrawal.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.