Celebrex (celecoxib's brand name) and tramadol (sold as Ultram) are medications that are prescribed for pain. Celebrex is classified as an NSAID, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. This kind of pain reliever blocks the body's production of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances in the body that are the source of inflammation and pain.) Tramadol is classified as an opioid (narcotic-like) medication. Both medicines help control pain but they work very differently.
Back pain and arthritis are two of the most common conditions treated with prescription pain medications like Celebrex and tramadol. The type of pain medicine that is used depends on the cause or amount of pain and also how the drug is tolerated by the patient. Choosing the right medication may also be determined by other health factors.
Celebrex's anti-inflammatory properties makes it similar to over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen (sold as Motrin or Advil).
Both Celebrex and ibuprofen reduce inflammation, but the difference between the two is that Celebrex is designed to be selective against enzymes that cause pain and is more effective for certain arthritis pain. Celebrex is the only cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2 enzyme) inhibitor sold in the United States.
Tramadol is classified as a centrally acting opioid analgesic, which means it works in the body like a narcotic drug. Although researchers don't really understand exactly how this type of medication works, they do know that drugs like tramadol affect the central nervous system and stop pain awareness. Tramadol also works in the brain like an antidepressant.
Comparing Celebrex and Tramadol
Celebrex is prescribed for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and it has little side effects for most people, aside from some stomach upset and headache. But the drug can cause some significant problems in people with heart conditions. In 2005, the FDA determined that people taking Celebrex were at an increased risk for serious cardiovascular events and should consider different choices for treatment if they have heart problems.
Tramadol is usually prescribed to treat chronic pain that is moderate to severe. The medication may cause stomach upset, which is probably one of the biggest reasons people quit taking the medicine. It also has the potential to make some people drowsy.
In a 2006, Pfizer conducted a clinical trial comparison of the two drugs. It was concluded that Celebrex was more effective than tramadol and also better tolerated.
Both Celebrex and tramadol are prescription medications and have potential drug interaction or serious side effects. People who are allergic to sulfa or are aspirin sensitive should not take Celebrex. Tramadol cannot be combined with certain types of other medications, such as some antidepressants. Neither medication has been proven safe to take during pregnancy. If you are considering taking either Celebrex or tramadol, discuss any potential safety or health concerns with your doctor or pharmacist.