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Can Gabapentin Replace Tramadol?

Gabapentin cannot quite replace tramadol, as the two can treat different kinds of pain and both have different mechanisms of action. Which one is best for you depends on the source of your pain.

Gabapentin (Gralise, Neuraptine) is an anticonvulsant and GABA analogue, meaning it is structurally similar to GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid). Importantly, GABA is the body’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it is crucial in calming the nervous system. That is why gabapentin is great for nerve-related conditions, such as shingles, seizures, and peripheral neuropathy. In a couple states, gabapentin is a Schedule V drug, meaning it has a lower risk for addiction than tramadol.

Conversely, tramadol is a Schedule IV opioid. While people may use it for nerve-related pain (like that caused by shingles), it is more commonly used for short-term alleviation of pain post-surgery or following an injury. It is also commonly used for chronic back pain that results from a serious injury or illness.

What are the side effects of taking gabapentin and tramadol?

It is not advisable to take gabapentin with tramadol, as it can enhance the effects of tramadol, resulting in greater depression of the central nervous system. This synergistic effect can result in negative side effects that include severe respiratory distress. In some cases, this combination can be lethal. For more information on the adverse reactions of gabapentin, visit our side effects page.

What drugs should not be taken with gabapentin?

As is the case with any other drug, there is a risk of serious interactions when mixing gabapentin with other drugs. Taking gabapentin and opioids like tramadol, for example, can result in a synergistic effect that leads to severe respiratory distress(ineffective breathing) and even death in some cases.

Other potential drug interactions for gabapentin include:

  • Caffeine
  • Cimetidine [Tagamet HB, Acid Reducer (cimetidine), Heartburn Relief (cimetidine)]
  • Ethacrynic acid (Sodium Edecrin, Edecrin)
  • Losartan (Cozaar)
  • Magnesium oxide (magnesia)
  • Mefloquine
  • Morphine (MorphaBond ER, Arymo ER, Infumorph P/F, Astramorph-PF, Duramorph, MS Contin)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox DS, Mediproxen, Flanax (naproxen), Wal-Proxen, Naprelan CR, All Day Pain Relief, All Day Relief, Comfort Pac-Naproxen, Ec-Naprosyn)
  • Phenytoin (Phenytek, Dilantin Kapseal, Dilantin Infatabs, Dilantin Extended, Dilantin-125)
  • Sevelamer (Renagel, Renvela)

Note that this list is not complete, and other drug interactions with gabapentin may occur than what is listed here. For more information, visit our gabapentin interactions page.

What medications should not be taken with tramadol?

The FDA has listed many interactions for tramadol. You can read our page on tramadol interactions to learn more.

Is tramadol good for nerve pain?

Tramadol works by blocking certain pain signals like μ-opiate receptors in the CNS; this action means that this medication is great for alleviating pain-related discomfort. Some people use tramadol for nerve-related pain, such as that caused by shingles. However, its most common usage is for moderate to severe pain following an injury or surgery.

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.


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