Tramadol Vs Oxycodone: What Are The Differences, Side-Effects, & Addiction Risks?

Tramadol Vs Oxycodone

There’s a lot of conflicting information about different medications, especially pain medications like Tramadol and Oxycodone. Between all the conflicting information and the warnings people can get about taking these medications, it can be difficult to figure out what’s true and the actual risks. 

It’s important to understand the differences between these medications and the risks and side effects of taking your medication. 

That’s why we’ve put together this guide, to help ensure you have the information you need to make informed choices about what medications you want to take and to help you understand the risk of addiction to these medications and what you can do if you do develop an addiction. 

Here’s what you need to know: 

What Are The Side Effects Of Tramadol Vs. Oxycodone?

Before we get into the side effects, the first thing you need to know about Tramadol vs. Oxycodone is that these medications are both opioid pain medications. They are typically used when other pain medications and pain management techniques, like over-the-counter pain medications, aren’t effective enough to manage your pain. 

Because these medications are both opioids, they both come with some risk of addiction in addition to the other side effects of the medications. 

It’s also important for you to know that the side effects from opioid medications normally get worse the longer you take them and the larger dose you’re taking. However, when you’re using these medications for pain, the side effects are usually less serious because the drugs are being used by your system instead of lingering where they can cause side effects. 

That said, even when you’re using these medications properly, there is a risk of addiction, and it may be harder to notice when the addiction is starting because of how you’re using the medication. 

One of the most serious side effects of opioid medications is called opioid hyperalgesia, which means that taking the opioid medication increases your perception of pain and made you more sensitive to pain than before starting the medication. 

Opioid hyperalgesia is one of the reasons it’s important to explore other pain control options and opportunities before starting an opioid medication long-term and to continue looking for alternatives to opioid medications while taking either Tramadol or Oxycodone. 

Because these medications are both opioids, they have a lot of side effects in common. We’ll discuss the side effects in common, then the unique side effects. 

Suffering from Opioid Pain Medication Side Effects

Opioid Pain Medication Side Effects: 

Common side effects from opioid pain medications, including both Tramadol and Oxycodone, include:  

  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Hypersomnia (sleeping more than usual) 
  • Constipation
  • Physical tolerance
  • Addiction

When it comes to Tramadol vs. Oxycodone, you should know a few unique side effects before you start taking either medication. 

Side Effects Of Tramadol

  • Decreased sensation
  • Blisters
  • Difficulty urinating

Side Effects Of Oxycodone

  • Dry mouth
  • Flushing
  • Mood changes
  • Hoarseness

In addition to these side effects, you may be at increased risk of seizures, hallucinations, falls, heart problems, liver and kidney problems, and other serious symptoms. 

There are many reasons you should be careful while using any opioid medication, including Tramadol and Oxycodone. Addiction is only one of them. It’s important, while using opioid medications, to work closely with your doctor to monitor your symptoms and make sure you aren’t having any of the more serious complications of use while you’re taking these medications. 

How Do Opioids Affect The Brain And Body?

Because both Tramadol and Oxycodone are opioids, they can have a similar effect on your brain and body. Which one works better for you depends on the kind of pain you’re dealing with, how long you’re likely to be in pain, and how your body metabolizes the medications. 

However, since they are both in the same class of medications, we aren’t going to separate this section into Tramadol vs. Oxycodone. Instead, we’re going to talk about the general function of opioids on your brain and body. 

First, you need to know that opioids can have widespread effects, and you may feel the effects of opioid use throughout your body. For instance, constipation that’s common with opioid medication may result from the opioid interfering with your nervous system or because you might not feel as thirsty when you’re taking opioids which can lead to dehydration. 

We can’t talk about all the effects of opioids here, but we can cover enough information to give you a good general sense of what these medications do. 

The primary system opioids work with is your nervous system. It helps to calm your nerves, reducing pain signals and producing a calm or euphoric feeling. The stronger the high, the more the medication is likely active in your system. When you’re in more pain, the medication will help block pain signals and calm your nerves from firing pain signals as often or strongly as they normally would. 

That’s part of why people in more pain might need a high dose to manage that pain; it takes more medication to calm the nervous system so that it’s not providing pain signals. 

However, because your nervous system is also involved in other natural processes that happen both consciously and automatically, opioids can also affect those processes. 

For instance, you might breathe more slowly or shallowly while taking opioid medications because the signals telling your body to breathe aren’t as strong as normal. 

Your coordination and reflexes are also likely to be affected by opioid medications. When taking these medications, you’ll probably respond more slowly to the world around you, and you might be more prone to bumping into or spilling things. 

It’s important not to drive or operate machinery while taking these medications, especially when you start the medication and aren’t familiar with how it affects you. 

 

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline 

Because opioid medications can form a chemical dependence, you can also get withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them or if you miss a dose accidentally. 

The timeline for opioid medications is largely similar regardless of what medication you’re withdrawing from. 

However, because Tramadol is the milder of these two medications, it’s also sometimes used to help manage withdrawal symptoms and make it easier for people to manage their symptoms. 

There is a drawback to using Tramadol for opioid withdrawal, though. It can take a little longer to go through withdrawal than without Tramadol. 

Opioid withdrawal rarely has serious complications. The biggest risks are dehydration and malnutrition, though seizures and comas can be complications in rare cases, usually with long-term use or other health problems complicating your detox. 

Symptoms of opioid withdrawal include: 

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fever
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache/migraine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

Typically opioid withdrawal takes between 5-7 days, but symptoms like craving opioids can persist for a few weeks until your body is used to functioning without the drug. Psychological cravings can persist long after you stop taking the medication. 

It’s important to remember that withdrawal is possible regardless of whether you develop an addiction or have been using opioid medications for a long time. 

Suppose you’re taking medications for pain after an injury or surgery or need to change medications and stop taking opioids after more than a few days of use. In that case, it’s important to talk with your doctors about safe ways to detox from the medication and if you should stop taking it entirely or take lower doses until it’s safe. 

a person going through Opioid Withdrawal

How To Get Help For An Addiction 

Suppose you’re dealing with an addiction to Tramadol or Oxycodone. In that case, it’s important first to recognize that you’re dealing with an addiction and that you don’t need to feel guilty or ashamed of it. You deserve help, and you can recover from your addiction

The important thing is to recognize when you need help and to get help when you can. 

There are a lot of resources out there for people with an addiction to Tramadol or Oxycodone, or other opioids. One of the best resources you have is probably your primary care doctor. Talk to them about your concerns and ask what resources are available. They’ll know what kind of addiction programs are available and may be able to make recommendations based on your circumstances and individual needs. 

A residential treatment center is one of the best places to go if you’re ready to overcome your addiction. A treatment center can help manage the symptoms of your detox, make it easier to get the drugs out of your system, and then help you work on coping mechanisms and identify why you were vulnerable to addiction in the first place. 

If you’re ready to overcome addiction and think that a treatment center is a right place for you, then Heights Treatment can help. Contact us to learn about our programs, how we can help people dealing with addiction, and our intake process. 

You can overcome addiction. You need the right resources to get there. 

Sources: 

  1. Tramadol vs. Oxycodone for Pain: Important Differences and Potential Risks. GoodRx. Accessed November 27, 2022. https://www.goodrx.com/undefined/compare/tramadol-vs-oxycodone
  2. Tompkins DA, Campbell CM. Opioid-Induced Hyperalgesia: Clinically Relevant or Extraneous Research Phenomenon? Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2011;15(2):129-136. doi:10.1007/s11916-010-0171-1
  3. Benyamin R, Trescot AM, Datta S, et al. Opioid complications and side effects. Pain Physician. 2008;11(2 Suppl):S105-120.
  4. Tramadol (Oral Route) Side Effects – Mayo Clinic. Accessed November 27, 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/tramadol-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20068050
  5. Oxycodone: MedlinePlus Drug Information. Accessed November 27, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682132.html

Amanda

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Ascendant NY, Infinite Recovery, Epiphany Wellness, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed November 27, 2022