Pain Killer

Tapentadol for Post-Surgical Pain: A Safe and Effective Option?


Tapentadol tablets and oral solutions are widely used for treating post-surgical pain. Belonging to the group of narcotic analgesics, Tapentadol is generally used for treating moderate to severe pain and is often prescribed when other pain medicines fail to work. Tapentadol extended-release tablets are used to treat severe and chronic pain, including nerve damage from diabetes and phantom pain. 

The Need For Tapentadol or Post-Surgical Pain

More than 70 million surgeries are conducted worldwide every year. That being said, around 80% of patients are reported to experience moderate to severe pain after their surgery. Living with such discomfort can affect the quality of life. Moreover, a lack of proper pain management can also lead to major health issues. This includes sensitization of central neurons, leading to the development of chronic pain. 

The problem with postoperative pain management is that it often leads a person to depend upon opioids. Tapentadol has proved itself as a potent medication used as pre-emptive analgesia. The drug reduces central neural sensitization by promoting anti-nociceptive prophylaxis before the onset of surgical pain. This reduces postoperative pain by a great deal, thereby reducing the dependence on postoperative analgesics. This helps patients with better pain management without risking the debilitating side effects of opioids.

How does Tapentadol work?

Tapentadol works in three ways:

  • μ-opioid receptor agonism
  • Norepinephrine reuptake inhibition
  • alpha-2 adrenoceptors activation

On top of that, it is known to have an excellent tolerability profile and overall patient satisfaction. 

In three randomized trials for bunionectomy, hip replacement surgery, and abdominal hysterectomy, patients are administered trial medications every 4-6 hours up to 72 hours. All patients were given Tapentadol, while oxycodone IR was given to patients undergoing hip replacement trials. Similarly, Morphine IR was administered to patients with bunionectomy and abdominal hysterectomy. 

As per results, patients administered Tapentadol IR showed significant improvement in pain management compared to morphine and oxycodone. Tapentadol’s tolerability profile as centrally acting analgesic shows promising results in post-surgery settings.

How to use Tapentadol for post-surgical pain?

Always follow the dosage as advised by your doctor. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any doubts.

Tapentadol oral tablets need to be swallowed as a whole. Don’t chew, split or crush the tablet, as it would affect its efficacy and absorbency. You can take the medicine with or without food, but if you suffer from nausea, you should take it with food.

If you often feel nauseated after taking Tapentadol, ask your doctor for tips to reduce it. Laying on a bed for 1-2 hours helps decrease the nausea effect.

Remember, the dosage is recommended by your doctor after carefully analyzing your medical history. So, self-medication is something you need to avoid at any cost. You may feel like the medicine is not working as before, but that doesn’t require a higher dose. It usually happens when you take a certain medication for a longer duration. Your doctor may change your dosage or suggest an alternative.

Most importantly, don’t stop taking the medicine abruptly. This could lead to withdrawal. Consult your doctor when you feel like you no longer need the medication. Your doctor will likely taper the dose slowly without letting you experience any withdrawal symptoms.

You may experience withdrawal symptoms, especially when you stop the medicine after taking it for a long time. 

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Muscle pain
  • Runny nose
  • Watering eyes
  • Nausea
  • Sudden change in mood
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia or other sleep disorders
  • Suicidal thoughts

Contact your doctor right away if you experience any of the above symptoms.

Some people with a history of substance abuse may get addicted to this drug. Therefore, before buying Tapentadol, inform your doctor about any personal or family history of drug abuse. In such cases, your doctor will prescribe a lower dose before gradually increasing it.

Side Effects of Tapentadol

Some common side effects of Tapentadol include nausea, constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, and vomiting. Although rare and generally go away, you should not take them lightly if these symptoms persist or worsen. You should promptly visit your doctor or seek medical care in such cases.

There are ways to prevent or alleviate these symptoms. For example, increasing your dietary fiber and water intake can help you with constipation. If you are still facing difficulty, you can take laxatives in your diet.

Similarly, avoid getting up fast or running to reduce the feeling of dizziness and light-headedness.

Some severe side effects to look out for include:

  • Confusion
  • Troubled or labored breathing
  • Interrupted breathing during sleep
  • Abdominal pain or stomach cramp
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Severe drowsiness

In rare cases, the medicine may adversely affect your adrenal glands, leading to weight loss, frequent tiredness, and loss of appetite.

Seek medical assistance right away if you experience any of the symptoms above.

Tapentadol Interactions with other medications

Tapentadol can have severe interactions when taken with other medications, leading to serious side effects and even death. 

Don’t mix Tapentadol with pain medications like naltrexone, said orphan, or opioid agonist-antagonists like pentazocine, nalbuphine, or butorphanol.

Stop taking MAO inhibitors at least two weeks before taking Tapentadol, as it can have fatal side effects. Some of the MAO inhibitors to avoid includes:

  • Isocarboxazid
  • Metaxalone
  • Linezolid
  • Safinamide
  • Rasagiline
  • Phenelzine
  • Procarbazine
  • Moclobemide
  • Methylene blue

Taking this medicine with medicines that increase serotonin levels in your body can lead to serotonin toxicity. This includes recreational drugs like MDMA, ecstasy, and certain antidepressants, including SSRIs like paroxetine, fluoxetine, duloxetine, and venlafaxine. 

The side effects may worsen, leading to severe drowsiness or shallow breathing when taken with products known to cause drowsiness, such as:

  • Opioid pain or cough syrups such as codeine or hydrocodone
  • Alcohol or marijuana
  • Sleep or anxiety drugs such as zolpidem, alprazolam, and lorazepam
  • Muscle relaxants like cyclobenzaprine and Carisoprodol
  • Antihistamines like cetirizine and diphenhydramine

Always inform your doctor of any drugs you are taking or planning to take. Moreover, you should also mention any health issues you now have or have had in the past. Remember, always take this medicine only if a licensed practitioner prescribes it. This is a controlled substance, so you should never risk taking Tapentadol without medical supervision. 

Reference Link

Tapentadol – about, usage and side effects | healthdirect

Tapentadol Oral: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing – WebMD

Tapentadol (Oral Route) Description and Brand Names – Mayo Clinic

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