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Q. I take tramadol to help me manage pain. I frequently have to add naproxen or ibuprofen to ease the arthritis in my hips and knees.

I have been having trouble with constipation and suspect that the tramadol is contributing. Do you have any recommendations for dealing with this besides laxatives?

A. Constipation can be a complication of many medications, including tramadol, naproxen and other powerful pain relievers. It is also triggered by some antidepressants, blood pressure pills and drugs for osteoporosis.

Since changing medications could be challenging, you may want to try some alternate approaches such as magnesium supplements, sugarless gum or candy, vitamin C, papaya extract or high-fiber foods such as flaxseed or hummus.

We are sending you our Guides to Digestive Disorders and Constipation with ten tips to combat constipation and recipes for pumpkin-bran muffins and Power Pudding, a mixture of bran, prune juice and applesauce.

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  1. Diane

    I assume you are taking tramadol pills, which I found were not as effective as an injection of 60mgs Tramadol.

  2. jj

    Flax seed is very good to relieve constipation, but plain old magnesium tablets also help, and so does MSM. But all three need water. And water is probably the most important component of all because it’s a part of our daily diet. A yogi recently pointed out that newly emerging adults have 15% less fluids in their body than children, and that as we gradually dehydrate as we age, it’s no wonder that we begin to stiffen like the dry leather we’re becoming.

  3. LloydSoCal

    You might also consider using non-prescription Psyllium (available OTC at most Drug Stores). That is a High Fiber ingredient that may help to ease the constipation. However, several other Drugs are also sources of “this Problem”, and in combinations (I take several Drugs daily — including Tramadol) a general solution like Fiber additives may help to make a difference. Discuss with your Doctor & ask for recommendations too.

  4. M C

    I too take Tramadol for arthritis pain and supplement it as needed with naproxen. Probiotics and stool softeners have helped my constipation. Orange Metamucil mixed with milk and vanilla to make a cold milkshake helps too. Even though it is not recommended to take medications with Metamucil, I find this milkshake prevents the stomach irritation from naproxen. I take the liquid-gel capsules even though I now have the concern about plastic in the capsules.

  5. ldh

    I too take Tramadol and have occasional problems with constipation. I have tried a number of things, including stool softeners, but have found that I get better relief from eating prunes. 1 or 2 around dinner time or before I go to bed seem to do the trick for me. I find I don’t need to eat them every day. A few days in a row and my body is back to working the way it should. When constipation strikes again, I start eating prunes again.

  6. terry h.

    I take morphine for head pain and suffered through constipation even while taking the recommended dose of magnesium. The very best advice I was given was to increase water intake (filtered tap water) and eat loads of green leafy or fibrous veggies and beans. The water and diet changes made a significant difference.

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