stressed out woman pulling her hair

Q. I have been taking Ultracet (tramadol) for several years for back pain. I was taking 100 mg three times a day as prescribed. The pain is better and I tried stopping the tramadol and had a terrible reaction.

I went to my internist who advised that I stop taking the tramadol over a period of time. I am now taking 50 mg three times a day but cannot get any lower than that without experiencing nerve twitches in my legs and intense jitteriness that interferes with my sleep.

Have you heard of similar problems and know of any way to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms without getting hooked on another medication?

A. Tramadol (Ultram, Ultracet, Rybix ODT, Ryzolt) is a strong pain reliever that was originally thought to have opioid-like activity without the same potential to cause addiction as morphine or similar narcotics. To quote the “experts,” tramadol was thought to have a “low potential for abuse.” In other words, it wasn’t supposed to cause physical dependence or produce a “withdrawal syndrome.”

It turns out the drug is a lot more complicated than many experts first believed. In addition to its analgesic action via opioid receptors in the brain, tramadol exerts a profound effect on other neurochemistry. That means that brain chemicals like serotonin and norepinephrine are profoundly impacted by tramadol. Sudden discontinuation can bring on a host of symptoms including:

Tramadol Withdrawal:

  • Anxiety, mood swings, irritability
  • Brain zaps (shock-like sensations), tingling
  • Sweating, chills, goose bumps, shivering
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia, sleeping difficulties, nightmares
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations, unusual thoughts
  • Aggresiveness

Some of these symptoms may persist longer than many health professionals realize and there is no one-size-fits-all tapering program. People vary greatly in the way their bodies adapt and recover. It may take several months to gradually wean yourself from tramadol. You should not attempt this on your own. A health professional who understands the complexity of the drug may be essential.

Many of the withdrawal symptoms associated with tramadol are reminiscent of those linked to sudden discontinuation of antidepressants like sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil) or venlafaxine (Effexor). The FDA has not provided physicians with clear guidelines on how to phase off such drugs. We frequently see recommendations like “gradual withdrawal,” but no one bothers to provide clear instructions about what that really means. We’re really sorry that we don’t have any great insight on this process either.

Although many people can relieve their acute or chronic pain with tramadol, here are some symptoms to be aware of while taking this medication.

Tramadol Side Effects:

  • Nausea, vomiting, indigestion, diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue
  • Restless legs
  • itching
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating, flushing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping, insomnia
  • Skin rash
  • Serotonin syndrome

Please note serotonin syndrome above. This can be a life-threatening situation and can be precipitated if tramadol is combined with other medications such as “triptans” prescribed for migraine headaches or antidepressants that affect serotonin. ALWAYS check with a pharmacist about the drug interactions before combining tramadol with any other medication. To learn more about serotonin syndrome, click here and here!

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  1. Lorna
    West Sussex

    I have been on Tramadol for over 5 years now. Doctor prescribed it for my arthritis. I started on 1 x 50mg 3 times daily but I am now taking up to 16 tablets a day. I stopped taking them 4 days ago and it has been an absolute nightmare but I think I can see a light at the end of the tunnel now. I find exercising (although it is the last thing you want to do) and plenty of fluids help. I have gone through this before and gone back on the tablets when my repeat prescription came through but I am determined to stay off them this time. I am seeing my doctor next week and I am going to tell him to take them off my repeat so I cannot obtain them. Good luck to everyone trying to kick these.

  2. Nina

    it’s all the same tramadol is bad news and they don’t tell you. Vitamins help with the symptoms. I haven’t had the bad symptoms and I think it’s because I’m taking vitamins with amino acids.

  3. A1rh3ad

    My girlfriend is going through the same things you all are talking about. Her doctor prescribed it to her for headaches caused by a cyst. He told her that it was non addictive which was a flat out lie. She has tried stopping for months at a time yet she still has the withdrawal. She finally stopped after she had her first seizure. Her friend who was on tramadol also had one.

    Now she seems to have permanent damage because she sometimes will spasm for no reason. She twitches a lot eespecially while sleeping. This stuff is awful. I wish we could sue for the damages it has caused.

  4. Daniel W.
    Midlands, UK

    I’ve been taking tramadol for best part of 7-8 years started at 4x 50mg a day for neck and lower back pain but soon became dependent on it! Also came to abuse it also going through 240 tabs in a matter of two weeks some days taking 16-20 tabs a day! I know that is an awful amount for a drug as potent and tramadol I had surgery for the back pain but still continued to use tramadol my wife and I know I have to put a stop to this but going without leaves me useless to man nor beast! It was more then a pain killer for me it was a mood enhancer, energy supply, relaxant, almost like ecstasy without all the very obvious signs to others. It’s reassuring knowing I’m not the only one facing the agony of trying to withdraw. Just wish I had a quitting buddy! Hope all goes well with everyone’s daunting tasks!

    • Nina
      tulsa ok

      I have had some of these symptoms. I’m glad to know I’m not alone. Every month my Dr is late calling in my prescription and that’s when I would go into withdrawal. I’m trying to get off and I have found vitamins with amino acids help. There are specific vitamins for opiate withdrawal.

  5. kilgore trout
    other side of hell

    I am on about day ten of having no tramadol after 2 years on them and before them, codiene for a couple of years, due to neck pain (cervical dystonia, or spasmodic torticollis), which is now under control with exercises and naproxen (erg!!). I reduced my dose of tramadol from 400 mg a day to 100 mg a day over a couple of months, to try and get rid of most of the “anti-depressant” discontinuation syndrome symptoms (on two tramadol taken at night, you will chip away at tramadol’s antidepressant effect, so that you wont be dropped into mega body and brain zaps, when you stop completely). You will still be firmly addicted to the opiate effect even on a 50 mg tablet a day, even after two weeks at that level, but you will experience far fewer of the antidepressant discontinuation symptoms.
    and then you stop and then you can’t sleep cause you legs and body just jitter about, vast amounts of cannabis (two weeks camping in holland or california) will relieve that enough so you can snatch sleep in between feeling sorry for yourself, eat as much as you can, don’t expect to function much in the day. if you can’t set aside time to get off tramadol, then wait till you can and just reduce you dose to the minimum you can sleep on.
    I have done this twice now and it was just as bad before, when i had only been on tramadol for 3 months. but now at day ten, I have just the mildest restless legs and a tiny bit of belly trouble, and otherwise I feel strong as an ox and randy as a bull.
    Never beat yourself up for being on pain killers when you in pain (even if that is emotional pain you can’t afford to face at the time), I would have had to kill myself from the pain otherwise, without tramadol to help me, and it is good in it’s way.
    But life on opiates is very drab compared to real life, so if you can get off em, then do.

  6. tracey

    My story with Tramadol started with hormonal disruptions and a breast infection also high blood sugar.
    I was taking 8 x 37.5 Tramacet for 6 yrs and decided to taper 3 a day off my daily dosage in hopes of correcting my hormonal and sugar issues. I was hit with the most horrendous withdrawals.High pitched ringing in my ears, severe depression and anxiety,really bad memory lapses, racing heartbeat, insomnia that was so crushing i would go days with a few hrs sleep.Severe mood swings and aggression that scared everyone around me and it is still going on in a more mild form as i am still on 3 tabs after 2 yrs of tapering.After everything I have been through and it is still not nearly over as i am guesstimating another good yr or so of tapering before i am off it. I still think it is not a bad drug if it is prescribed appropriately for the right reasons.For depression. Not for pain. I am very angry at the drug company for convincing doctors and pharmacists that it was a non addictive non narcotic drug. It is an antidepressant and an NMDA antagonist. Methadone is also an NMDA btw…They are studying NMDA’s for people with refractory depression and it is working on lifting people from suicidal thoughts quite quickly. No surprise it effects your mood so much when you taper.. My advice is to go very slow. 1/4 tab every two to three weeks . I am on an amino acid for depression from my naturopath. I take 1000 mg of DHA oil , magnesium before bed , a liquid b vitamins and GABA when I have bad anxiety. Clonozapam only when I am desperate for sleep and anxiety ridden.. I have had a very poor quality of life the last two years because of this drug.At times honestly, I felt I was going completely insane. Psychotic behaviours. Saddens me that so many docs are clueless how much emotional and phychological pain this has caused for innocent people who trusted their docs. The drug company made an apology for minimizing the risks. Too little too late for some of us. I am afraid i will never be the same person again.

  7. melissa y.

    I have been on tramadol for 8 years. I took 7 50mg. Daily. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever gotten out if my life. I’ve even quit smoking tobacco so I have will power. This is physical, mental, emotional as well. I’ve been told that Immodium in large doses helps. It mimics an opiate as it binds to the same receptors in the brain. The chills and crying are the worst part. I could kick my docs butt for this. They are very misinformed as to the addiction issues of this med. You are not alone! We ate all trying to kick this. I wish you all the best of luck and tell others to stay far away from this med. It’s hell on earth. I’m aware of every moment as I go through this…..

  8. Pam

    I have been taking Tramadol 4×50 a day for 5 years after major surgery that went wrong. I was afraid to get addicted but the Doctor told that me that I would not get addicted if the pain was real. Well I knew the pain was real so went with it.

    Five years later I have decided to come off the pills because they are no longer stopping my pain, in fact, they’re giving me a lot of pain and other symptoms.

    I took one last Wednesday and nothing more until last night. I thought that I had a flu virus in the worst way for the past five days. It wasn’t until I looked at this post that I realised it wasn’t the flu after all… but withdrawal symptoms of this awful drug. I have been in hell- all alone with no one to turn to. I thought I was dying but determined not to take tramadol. Last night I couldn’t sleep and was so irritable, but at least my fever had broken. I was so uncomfortable I had to take one to calm me down and get some sleep. I was determined to get off these things and since I have suffered for so long this week had to make it, but didn’t. May have to take one at night for a few days… will see how it goes.

    My Doc did tell me to do it slowly but I never dreamed it would be so bad to go cold turkey. Glad I did now as my head is clearing. I feel like I have been living in a fog for the past five years and suddenly my head is clear. I am through the worst I hope. Funny thing is the pain I was taken them for has gone.

    If you want to try cold turkey make sure you don’t have to go anywhere for a week and have some support! Have plenty of baths and get lots of tissues. I was taking flu pills because I didn’t know but they seemed to calm my symtoms down a little.

    Good luck.

  9. Jim
    United States

    It is encouraging in an odd sort of way to hear about these withdrawal symptoms. For me, I have been taking much lower doses than most people in these (and other) posts. 52, in fairly good shape, not taking any other medications – started taking Tramadol for back pain issues. For a few years I was just taking 1 50 mg several days a week. Then it needed to go to one a day, then 2 a day several days a week, with the occasional 3 per day (the 2 – 3 a day only for a few months). I would take it around 3-4 pm and then a second one around 7 – 8 pm. I soon began noticing that by the time I would wake up the following morning I was feeling absolutely horrible – didn’t feel like waking up, lethargic, mood was rotten and depressed. Couldn’t wait until 4 pm or 3 pm came around again and then magically within about an hour I felt great – positive attitude, energetic. But I started reading more to find out about the morning rotten feeling and saw the withdrawal symptoms could start around the time it was for me (along with the other horror stories).

    Decided it was time to cut back – didn’t take the second pill, and sleeping was horrible – RLS all over my body, especially my back, and extreme at that. And feeling like I was going to explode. Extremely tired, but can’t sleep with this. Daytime is horrible – tired, and generally feeling miserable and depressed. The goal is to take a half of a pill, and then try to skip it altogether. We’ll see. But let me tell you – the pain relief is DEFINITELY not worth the feelings associated with withdrawal – and the problem is that you begin to feel withdrawal even when you are taking it, and then you need a second pill, and then a third, and so on to avoid the withdrawal symptoms, each time getting much much worse. Stay away from Tramadol if you can, and PLEASE share your stories with your doctor so he/she can warn other patients.

  10. Jassyy

    I was prescribed Tramadol for my neck pain and I was taking 50mg three times a day for 4 months. The first month I was addicted to it and wanted to take it every day because it made me feel good. Little that I know this medication was ruining my life. I had lost interest in life, major depression, anxiety, panic disorders. I was crying everyday like someone died. I was going nuts trying to find out what was wrong with me. Finally I put myself together and realized it was tramadol that was doing that to me. Please if anyone is taking it take it slow and talk to your doctor. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through, it was like being in hell.

  11. Sonja

    I started coming off Tramadol about a month ago, I’ve been taking them for 5 years and at the worst I was taking 400mg a day, the past year or so taking about 200mg a day, never going more that 12 hours without! The last month I’ve been cutting one out each week, and i took 50mg for the last 2 days, this has been the hardest part and I know that from today it’ll get harder, as I plan to not take anymore! My body is screaming at me, I feel heavy, my skin is crawling, I’m hot, but I know I can’t go back now! This is the furthest I’ve come! After trying cold turkey before, my partner just thinks I can turn on a switch in my head and stop! I wish I had more support with it! I know there is no easy way to stop the withdrawals and in a way it’s a penance for taking them! I will always tell people I meet never to take tramadol, it is a marvoulous drug but also a terrible one too! And the downside of stopping for me far outweighs the pain relief I got!
    Good luck everyone who’s going through the same thing as me! Stay strong!

  12. Becky

    I’ve been taking between 300-400mg of tramadol for 6 years. I have non cancer tumour pain and nerve damage.
    im not sure if it’s my petite size or if I’m just that unlucky highly sensitive % that reacts terribly but my withdrawal experience has been awful!
    I have all of the symptoms mentioned even on an extremely low taper schedule. I wish there was more advice out there. I have felt alone doing this on trial and error.
    Some things I have learned that may help others.
    – magnesium oil & Epsom salt baths really help with RLS
    – try to limit stimulation (electronics, noise) for the worst days & rest lots, bath etc
    – day 5 -6 for me is the worst but once I’ve made it through that part of the drop it gets easier.
    -it takes me almost 2 weeks to stabilize after a drop.
    – stick to 10% drops & once you get to a 3rd reduce to 5%. ( I am in awe of those of you that have gone cold turkey successfully- big drops did not go well for me & can be really dangerous for some people)
    – Unfortunately, as you can see from these posts everyone is very different but you are not alone. It’s a tough journey but hopefully worth it. (1/3 reduced dose so far- fingers crossed)

  13. ️Sue
    new York

    i have been on TRAMADOL 5 months, 50 mg 4x a day. I have recently, per my Doctors instructions, had to wean myself down to 100 mg a day. I suffer from panic and anxiety disorder and am on medication to help those. Today….my 3rd day of only taking 100mg was the WORST day ever. I kept having anxiety attacks, then crying then yelling like a lunatic. I could not sit still and yet I was glued to my sofa. I took extra doses of my anxiety medicine, and it did not help. Not until I went upstairs to take my night pills which includes a 50 mg TRAMADOL did the anxiety level go down. According to my Dr there should be no withdrawl symptoms. I can’t tell you how happy I am to know that he is crazy and I am not. Any advice as to how to get myself off these things without all the symptoms mentioned. I return to work in10 days and can not be like this. Thanks.

  14. Lori

    I was prescribed Tramadol in Oct 2014 during reconstruction from a double mastectomy. I took 50mg 4 times a day for three and a half months. My doctor first prescribed hydrocodone, but that gave me no pain relief and the side effects such as nausea and extreme headache. at first, tramadol seems like a miracle. No pain, and no side effects. It worked beautifully. Then, I a terrible ugly rash in my skin on my forehead and even on my eyelid. It was like poison ivy, bed and sleeping. This occurred after three and a half months of use, in the end of Jan. I decided to wean myself of the Tramadol, to see if my pain would be manageable without it. at first I went cold turkey. This is because my surgeon told me that it was not at all physically addicting. He was concerned about a psychological addiction, but I experienced no psychological lift from it, so I was not concerned about that.
    apparently, he is dead wrong about it not being physically addicting. I have such severe symptoms going cold turkey that I decided I better go back on it and just halve the dose gradually. I went from four 50 milligram pills a day, to 2 for about 2 weeks, then dropped it to one pill for about 2 weeks. Then 3 days ago, I stopped it completely. Throughout this process I have experienced severe restless leg syndrome that has made it almost impossible to sleep some nights. I have had extreme mood swings, and violent outbursts. The antsiness is so extreme, and runs all over my body, even during the day. The symptoms are not continuous. Thankfully, they are most extreme at the beginning and then gradually improve over the 2 weeks time. I am up typing this at 2am because the RLS was so bad that I had to get up. It feels like I’m going crazy but I know the end is in sight. This drug is not a miracle, it is a monster. And any physician who says it isn’t physiologically addictive should have their license revoked.

    • ivy

      Have ypu been completely off tramadol since this post? I ask because if so I wonder how you’re making out now? I’m on tramadol also and am trying to get off. I just took my last 3 pills this morning and I’m already feeling like crap! the longest I have been off of it was 2 days and the withdrawals were terrible. It was the no sleep that really got to me. when were you able to actually sleep good again? I’m afraid I’m gonna cave and go get some cause I can’t handle feeling like this for a long time. You said your petite well I am as well so I’m thinking maybe your experience would be similar to mine. Which days were the worst? please any info you could give me would be GREATLY appreciated!

      • Nadia
        Burnaby, B.C

        Hi I was taking Tramadol for 4 months and was taking it 2 to 3 bills every 4 hours, I stopped taking it cold turkey because I ran out. Its been 11/2 weeks and still going through bad withdrawls, my sleeping pattern it all over the place, I sleep maybe 2 to 3 hours a day I’m a mess really can’t stand it anymore I’m hoping it will stop soon. Any advice?

    • Israel

      I took 50mg twice a day for 2 days and noticed a difference in my mood and my blood pressure went up so I decided to stop. The next day I noticed irritability and moodiness. When someone spoke to me I felt very aggressive. This is my third day off of them and I feel better now my blood pressure is down and no more moodiness. I feel for all you that have been on them for years at such high doses. I really hope all of you here the best. I really don’t understand how a doctor can tell you there’s no withdrawal symptom associated with this medication and hope there is a better alternative for others.

      • Roberta
        Lake Jackson, TX

        Like you, I’m grateful that I’ve been on such a low dose. I’ve had a history of insomnia since I was a child and I take Ambien to sleep so hopefully that won’t be a problem for me. My doc prescribed Tramadol for me for arm pain that I was having at night. I was prescribed one 50 mg pill at bedtime but was only taking it occasionally if I woke up in the night with the arm pain. Still, I have felt incredibly sleepy and fatigued when I haven’t taken one for 12 hours or so. I started cutting them in half about a week ago and now am on 1/4 of one at bedtime. I can’t imagine having to withdraw from a stronger dosage. As I write this, I have a headache and feel heavy and twitchy. When I am done I will be done with this medication for good. Good luck to everyone getting off of it.

  15. Greg
    Melb (Australia)

    Just thought I would share my last two days with everyone. I have been on Tramadol 200×2 a day for over 3 years following a major road accident on my bike plus lyrica and Endone when required after each operation (14 in total) I stopped the endone each time after a short period of time. My doctor gave me the impression that Tramadol was not a problem to stop. Were they wrong, with aches, flu like symptoms, lethargic feeling, nerve pain and all the other ones mentioned it has been an unbearable 2 days, I am determined to become medication free but I can see this is not going to be easy. I am going back to a step down approach to help me manage the process. Does anyone have other suggestions?

    • walter

      I’ve taken Tramadol twice now for periods of 5-6 months. I’m using it again as i come down from 6 years of oxycodon use. (lower back is in poor shape after 3 failed back operations over 30 years.) I experience RLS occasionally normally but on Tramadol it is close to constant. The only thing that works pretty well is a good quality, heavy massager. After 15 mins. of massaging my legs i get relief long enough to get to sleep. I’ve occasionally had to repeat the massage if the RLS awakes me, but most often I’m fine until I take another dose of Tramadol.

  16. Aminda

    I have been taking tramadol since 2006 for severe menstrual pain. When my doctor prescribed it to me, I did not realize that it is a low level opiate and thus did not realize the potential for dependency. At first I only took it when I needed it for cramps, but over the years I kept taking more and more because my body and mind felt so shitty without it (I have a chronic pain disorder). At my worst I was taking 50mg three times per day. Since I wasn’t taking all that high of a dose, I thought that maybe withdrawals wouldn’t be so bad. I was so wrong. This has been one of the toughest weeks of my life so far! I can’t sleep because I have terrible restless legs. I don’t feel energetic or happy, which the Tramadol always helped me with. I feel foggy in my head and jittery all over my body. My mood is terrible. I am wondering how long these symptoms will last. I don’t have a current prescription so I can’t get my hands on more, which I think I good because I don’t want to battle this forever. I would love and advice or encouraging words!

    • SJ
      South Africa


      I also have had the same problem when taking Tramadol for my Knee. It was really bad as I had the exact symptoms and a few more.

      With time it got better and I was able to stop feeling like that. I know it’s really a nightmare but I eventually felt fine again. If you are really battling with it then Maybe you should speak to your doctor for some advice or help.

      Good Luck and God Bless

  17. Chris

    Hi guys, 7 months ago I hurt my back L1 and S5, Disc crushed some of my spinal cord. I did this weightlifting. I have very little feeling in my right leg or my right foot. I have been prescribed Lyrica and Tramadol for the control of pain. A neurosurgeon told me go home sit it out for six months and see what happens. Ive decided to wean of the Tramadol a bit as it makes me seem a bit lost at times. My dosage is 300mg per day. I am also suffering from the restless legs, the jitters, cant sleep, agitated 24/7. Ive started by skipping my morning dose of Tramadol but the side effects are driving me insane. I feel like Id rather be back on it again.

    • Debby

      I was also on 300 mg time release and 1 or 2 tramacets throughout the day. I got a nerve block shot and decided to go cold turkey to see if it worked. Not the best idea I have ever had! I am 11 days in and except for the restless Body Syndrome and some headache/nausea I am feeling not too bad. The real trick is to make it past the first 72 hours without just taking it (it feels like a really bad flu).

  18. AcornIntoOak

    I would like to add into this discussion the symptoms that came up that prompted tapering off of Tramadol, as well as the withdrawal process I’ve been navigating.

    I began Tramadol in 2008 for extreme pain due to numerous factors: I fell down a mountain in Java and within six weeks of that contracted severe Dengue fever on top of having a painful form of muscular dystrophy, adenomyosis, homocystenuria, an immune disorder and fibromyalgia. At the time I began it I had been bedridden for two years and mostly paralysed from my ribs down. So many other pain treatments had been tried to little effect.

    Then the Tramadol was tried and holy cow! It worked a dream! In less than a year I was back to college and working. A bit more than that and I was fully ambulatory again. I took 2 50mg tablets 4-5 times a day and for the next six years all went well.

    Then in late 2013 the adenomyosis and endometriosis required extensive abdominal surgery, further melanomas turned up and then the cold and flu season got me really run down which triggered a relapse of the muscular dystrophy in February 2014. This time the paralysis was waist down and limited use of the upper body. I tell you all of this because it’s important to know that my situation is super complicated and would cause drugs to react differently with me than most people but later developments may serve as a warning to others so that they can work with their doctor to rule it out before things get too bad.

    What happened next was in late July. I slowly started having odd memory problems. I would completely lose periods of activity within a few days of doing them. Here and there at first. Considering everything else going on we thought it was the stress of it all catching up to me. Then in September there were clear signs that something wrong was happening with my brain. I’d get lost and confused in familiar places and activities, I would startle very easily, get disoriented at the drop of a hat and lose words while trying to talk. Early Alzheimer’s was suspected after brain and spine scans didn’t show any new problems, and tapering off each of my medications to be off of them for 3 days each hadn’t shown any changes.

    I had successfully completed months of physical, speech and cognitive therapy by November and found my pain levels had diminished enough that I was taking half the doses of Tramadol by then and the cognitive therapy had apparently begun working well because the brain issues were lessened too. Things were better but hadn’t reached normal, yet it seemed like it was somewhat possible for the future. I couldn’t write anymore nor read much but life had improved and I did have some independence.

    Then Christmas night we took down our tree in prep for a trip the next day and I managed to badly hurt my knee and back in the process. I took my full doses of Tramadol on each time for the next 12 hours. The next day I had my worst brain episode yet. I was shopping for the trip with my spouse and completely lost my sense of place, activity and why we were there for a good ten minutes–I felt like a lost child. My spouse had to sit with me and talk to me like I was five, reassuring me that everything was as planned and that he would make sure I was okay. I was fraught with anxiety and uncertainty about everything around me. And on the drive home, every time a car would turn abruptly or change lanes quickly I would gasp audibly. It was very unnerving, especially since we were about to leave for a lengthy drive for the holiday. It was then that two and two came together. I had been taking lower doses when the brain issues began to ease up and they came back with a vengeance when I returned to full doses.

    The next week we started the taper off of Tramadol, as we had done many times over the years to check for dependency, but this time instead of the standard 3 days we planned 7 days free of it. I had never had withdrawal before, only steady increases of pain that I just tried to zone out and away from during the three days. Same thing happened this time.

    That is until we got to the night of day 5. At first it was severe headache with fever, not clearly withdrawal, could have just been a cold but that night I had horrendously sad and gory dreams on top of it. Pain levels had increased to the point of being breath taking from time to time but nothing I couldn’t manage with steady concentration or distraction. Then the sudden stabs of pain behind my right eye told me this wasn’t a cold. The next day, chest pains added in and occasional difficulty breathing along with stabbing pains in my brain. Then I found myself crying over sappy songs or commercials–totally atypical behavior from me. (Thought it was some hormonal swing but have since read here that many of you have this symptom too).

    Then the deep horrendous all over body pain started. On some days I took five long hot epsom salt baths. They helped while in them but within an hour the benefit faded. The leg pains and shock sensations began next and nearly brought me to tears all night long.

    But it was that next day when I woke up that I knew that it was the Tramadol. That day I got my brain back. Not fully, but in a very noticeable amount! That was also the day I was supposed to start back on the Tramadol.

    It is now 9 days since I have had any. Sometimes the bone pains are excruciating–but this is the shocking part for me–sometimes I have almost no pain at all! And my brain is nearly back to the way it was years ago. I thought I was just getting older, all the slowing, but it wasn’t anything other than the Tramadol. Tonight the stabbing pains in my legs and hips did bring me to tears, knocked the breath right out of me at least two dozen times over the course of the night, but each one lasted not much more than a minute with tolerable pain in between and as I write this it has all dropped down near a 3 with nary an aspirin.

    I still have a ways to go before all the side effects and withdrawal symptoms are gone but there is a positive and whole life out there just a few clicks down the road that was completely inaccessible just a few months ago.

    I don’t know what changed with how my body processed or responded to the Tramadol. It was a wonder for me when all else had failed, but somewhere along the way it became the problem. I hope this information could alert someone ahead of time if they start having odd brain problems, before it becomes dangerously limiting for them.

  19. Lyn C.

    After nine years of taking Tramal SR. to cover nerve damage from transflap mastectomy breast reconstruction I have to come off. The side effects of prolonged use are horrific and even fatal. Muscle spasms, brochospams, panic attacks, chest pain, irritable bowel syndrome. I am half way off and really struggling but determined to get there. I am 72 years old, which possibly doesn’t help, but I have a positive outlook and have always been relatively fit and energetic.

    I have dropped the dosage very gradually using Tramal in drop form, and having the doses spread out over the full day to cope with the slow release. My naturopath is wonderful helping me with supplements to soften the journey. I have had to resort to using Valium, just 2.5mg, especially in the early days to ease the muscle spasms and difficulty breathing. Sometimes it was so bad I needed three doses of valium in one day. As the drops reduce that need lessens dramatically. I have periods where there are no spasms for four days, but when the spasms return, I know it is time to reduce the drops a little more.

    However the withdrawal brings up other difficulties. My body is in a dilemma. Now the original burning pain from the breast reconstruction has returned as it is no longer masked. Also I have incredible pain in my legs,and have to get off my feet often. Also I have insomnia which I have never had before.

    At this moment I estimate it will be another eight weeks until I am off the Tramal completely…
    So I am hoping that withdrawal symptoms will slowly go. I am planning to go on SAMe to help me with the nerve pain, when free of this confounded drug.
    My advice is to avoid Tramal completely unless it is very short time use.

  20. Ann
    Bolton, England

    I’m trying slowly to come off tramadol, been on then for quite a few years, was on 400mg a day. I’m now down to 150 a day and am feeling the side effects, restlessness and unable to sleep. I can’t wait to have a proper nights sleep again, it’s awful, I’m so tired. I will never go on these again.

  21. Ty

    I took Tramadol for a few injuries including a knee injury and got addicted. Tramadol was supposed to be weaker but it made me higher than codiene-based pills ever did. When I noticed this addiction I went cold turkey and had a 1 week ordeal where I was violent and jittery non-stop, but I informed my family ahead of time that I was going cold turkey. Still, no one expected it to be that bad. Eventually I had to use some older codiene pills I had from a prior surgery to help me the last few days but within two weeks I was symptom free and pill-free. I was prescribed Tramadol for long-term pain relief because it was supposed to be non-addictive compared to Vicodin and other pain relievers. Took 3 years to get over the knee pain finally, but if I do get it hurting from working too hard I take an Aleve every now and then since that is the best over the counter pain killer for me.

  22. Walt
    So. Oregon Coast

    My VA doctor has had me on 400 mg daily for 4yrs for my peherial naturopathy. He said I could stop cold turkey because there no withdrawal symptoms. Was he ever wrong. I am on day three and have most of the symptoms people describe. Jerky legs, brain zaps flu symptoms, not able to sleep at night but fall asleep for a few minutes all day long, nervous tremors plus the original pain the tramadol was stopping. I have decided the pain fron the neuropathy was easier to endure than the side effects of tramadol. Day three and counting.

  23. S D
    New zealand

    My story is a little different.

    I’ve been diagnosed with chronic kidney stones (have had 4 in the previous year including 2 surgeries). I haven’t been without at least 1 kidney stone in this time.

    For about 11 months I was on 400mg per day (2x50mg 4 times a day) and must say tramadol is an amazing pain killer that does its job well. 4 weeks ago I decided to wean myself off as ive had concerns about my liver with long term use of this opioid.

    Long story short, I went from 400mg to 300mg for 1 week, then 200mg for a week, finally 50mg for a week and then stopped. I experienced 2 days of severe RLS which was eased with a small codiene Rx from doc. These and the odd brain zaps were all I experienced and none of it happened during the weaning process.

    I guess everyone is different. Just wanted to share.

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