Tramadol (or tramodol, as it is commonly misspelled) is a generic oral medication available with a doctor's prescription. Tramadol is a part of the opioid analgesic class of medications, of which morphine and hydrocodone are also members.
Like other opioid analgesics, tramadol functions by blocking sites on your brain and spinal cord known as opioid receptors. When these sites are blocked, your nervous system slows down.
Because of the effect tramadol and other opioid analgesics have on your nervous system, doctors prescribe the drug for the treatment of severe pain.
Tramadol is available in two forms, one of which intended for use for five days to relieve temporary pain caused by a sudden illness or surgery, explains the U.S. National Library of Medicine. The other form of tramadol is for prolonged usage in the treatment of chronic pain.
Like other opioid analgesics, some patients develop a physical or emotional dependence upon tramadol, resulting in abuse of the drug like taking more than prescribed or using even when pain no longer persists, cautions the Mayo Clinic.
Tramadol and other opioid analgesics pose a risk for respiratory depression, a life-threatening condition where your brain is not able to regulate your breathing. Because of this, tramadol should not be combined with other drugs in its class or with alcohol, warns the U.S. National Library of Medicine.