Header Image for Lyrica vs Ultram

Lyrica vs Ultram

Listen to the article instead of reading through it.


Lyrica Information

Ultram Information

Comparative Analysis

Lyrica Prescription Information

Ultram Prescription Information

Lyrica Side Effects

Ultram Side Effects

Safety Information

Cost Information

Market Information


For patients dealing with neuropathic pain or fibromyalgia, certain medications can help manage these symptoms by altering the way nerves send signals of pain to the brain. Lyrica and Ultram are two such drugs that doctors might prescribe for nerve pain or fibromyalgia. They each work differently in managing pain signals but both have been found effective in providing relief from chronic discomfort. Lyrica is classified as an anticonvulsant which works by slowing down impulses in the brain that cause seizures and also affects chemicals in the brain that send pain signals across the nervous system. Ultram, on the other hand, is a narcotic-like analgesic categorized as an opioid analgesic; it primarily works by changing how your body senses and responds to pain.

Lyrica vs Ultram Side By Side

Brand NameLyricaUltram
ContraindicationsWorsening depression or anxiety, suicidal thoughts or behavior, taking MAOIsWorsening depression or anxiety, suicidal thoughts or behavior, taking MAOIs
CostAbout $470 for 30 capsules (75 mg), or $0.90–$1.20/day for genericAbout $120 for 60 tablets (50 mg), or $0.10–$1.00/day for generic
Generic NamePregabalinTramadol
Most Serious Side EffectSuicidal thinking or behavior, severe allergic reactions, skin problems, vision changes, heart issues, electrolyte imbalance, muscle rigidityAllergic reactions, serotonin syndrome, severe breathing problems, mood or behavior changes, seizures, liver damage, rapid heart rate
Severe Drug InteractionsMonoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
Typical Dose150-600 mg/day, divided into two or three doses25-50 mg/day initially, up to 400 mg/day maximum, divided into doses

What is Lyrica?

Pregabalin (the generic name for Lyrica) is an anti-epileptic drug, also called an anticonvulsant. It works by slowing down impulses in the brain that cause seizures. Pregabalin also affects chemicals in the brain that send pain signals across the nervous system. It was first approved by the FDA in 2004 and can be used to manage neuropathic pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy or postherpetic neuralgia, and fibromyalgia.

On the other hand, tramadol (the generic name for Ultram), a unique non-narcotic analgesic agent that has opiate-like properties but unlike Morphine or Codeine, it does not depress respiration if taken within therapeutic doses. Tramadol acts as a μ-opioid receptor agonist to provide relief from severe pain. Unlike pregabalin, tramadol's primary function isn't to slow down impulse transmission but rather act directly on parts of your brain where it changes how your body feels and responds to pain.

Each medication comes with its own set of side effects, although some patients may experience fewer side effects with pregabalin due to its selective action on specific neurotransmitters related to pain signaling pathways.

What conditions is Lyrica approved to treat?

Lyrica has been approved by the FDA for treatment of various conditions, including:

  • Neuropathic pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy
  • Postherpetic neuralgia (pain after shingles)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Neuropathic pain associated with spinal cord injury
  • As an adjunctive therapy for partial onset seizures in patients 17 years of age and older.

How does Lyrica help with these illnesses?

Lyrica works to manage various types of pain, including neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia, by modulating the activity of calcium channels in nerve cells. It does this by binding to a subunit of the voltage-gated calcium channel in central nervous system neurons, which results in decreased release of several neurotransmitters like glutamate, noradrenaline, substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide. These neurotransmitters are involved in transmitting pain signals from the peripheral nerves to the brain.

Calcium channels play an important role in how electrical impulses are transmitted within nerve cells. It's thought that individuals with conditions like neuropathy or fibromyalgia have hyperexcitable nerve cells that lead to higher levels of these transmitters being released. Therefore, by reducing their release through modulation of calcium channel activity, Lyrica can limit chronic pain symptoms and help patients better manage their condition.

What is Ultram?

Ultram is the brand name for tramadol, an opioid analgesic used to treat moderate to severe pain. Ultram works by binding to mu-opioid receptors in the brain and inhibiting reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin, thereby increasing their levels in the brain. This dual mechanism results in both immediate and delayed pain relief. Approved by FDA in 1995, Ultram differs from traditional opioids which only work through opioid receptor pathways.

Unlike Lyrica (pregabalin), a drug that primarily targets calcium channels to reduce neurotransmitter release and hence neuropathic pain, Ultram affects multiple pathways including those involving opioids as well as monoamines like serotonin and norepinephrine. For this reason, its side-effect profile may differ from that of drugs like Lyrica; it may cause constipation, nausea or sedation more commonly associated with opioid use alongside dizziness or headache seen with drugs affecting serotonergic or noradrenergic systems.

The multi-pathway action of Ultram makes it a versatile tool for managing various kinds of pain – acute or chronic - especially where other typical analgesics might not be effective.

What conditions is Ultram approved to treat?

Ultram, also known as tramadol, is approved for the treatment of:

  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Chronic or acute pain conditions which can include post-operative pain and cancer-related pain.

It's important to note that Ultram should only be used under professional medical supervision due to its potential for dependency and serious side effects like respiratory depression if misused.

How does Ultram help with these illnesses?

Ultram, also known as tramadol, is an opioid pain medication that operates by interacting with the body's central nervous system to alter how your body responds to and feels pain. Similar to norepinephrine’s role in focus and attention, Ultram targets certain brain chemicals - namely serotonin and norepinephrine - increasing their levels in the brain which helps alleviate sensations of discomfort. While it does not directly impact dopamine like Wellbutrin does, its effects on serotonin can indirectly stimulate dopamine release, further contributing to its analgesic properties. This differs from Lyrica (pregabalin), which works primarily by binding to calcium channels in nerve cells reducing neurotransmitter release and thus decreasing the activation of pain pathways in the brain. The choice between these two medications may depend on a patient’s specific condition or response to other treatments; Ultram might be chosen over Lyrica for patients who fail to respond adequately or have contraindications with typical anticonvulsants or neuropathic pain relievers.

How effective are both Lyrica and Ultram?

Pregabalin (Lyrica) and tramadol (Ultram) are both widely used medications for pain management, with a history of success in treating neuropathic pain. Pregabalin was approved by the FDA in 2004, not long after tramadol's approval in 1995. Because they have different mechanisms of action, these drugs may be prescribed under different circumstances or even together for an additive effect.

Pregabalin acts on the central nervous system to reduce excitatory neurotransmitter release, while tramadol works primarily as a μ-opioid receptor agonist but also inhibits reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine. A direct comparison study conducted in 2007 indicated that pregabalin exhibited similar efficacy as tramadol for managing diabetic peripheral neuropathy symptoms. Both drugs demonstrated promising safety profiles, although patients taking pregabalin experienced fewer side effects like nausea and constipation compared to those receiving Tramadol.

A review published in The Cochrane Library showed that pregabalin is effective at relieving painful diabetic neuropathy and postherpetic neuralgia from the first week of treatment onwards; it has good tolerability and predictable pharmacokinetics that allow flexible dose adjustments when necessary. Tramadol is commonly prescribed worldwide due to its efficiency against moderate to severe pain conditions such as osteoarthritis where other weaker analgesics fail.

Nonetheless, there are considerations regarding each drug's use: while dependence liability is lower with Lyrica than opioid alternatives like Ultram due to its unique mechanism of action; Ultram can induce potentially serious drug interactions because it depends heavily on liver enzyme CYP2D6 metabolism which can vary greatly among individuals or be affected by other concurrently taken medications metabolized via same pathway.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

Find Top Clinical Trials

Choose from over 30,000 active clinical trials.

At what dose is Lyrica typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Lyrica range from 150-600 mg/day, divided into two or three doses, for the management of neuropathic pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy and postherpetic neuralgia. On the other hand, Ultram is typically started at a dose of around 25 mg/day and it may be increased by 25-50 mg every three days to reach 50-100 mg/day every four to six hours. For chronic pain relief in adults, up to a maximum dosage of 400mg per day should not be exceeded. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting or changing any medication regimen.

At what dose is Ultram typically prescribed?

Ultram (tramadol) therapy typically begins at a dose of 25-50 mg/day. This can then be increased to 100 mg/day, divided into two doses that are taken approximately 12 hours apart. The maximum dose is 400 mg/day, divided into four doses of 100 mg each and spaced about six hours apart. If there is no response to the treatment after a few weeks at an initial dosage level, your healthcare provider may suggest increasing the dose incrementally until pain relief is achieved or side effects become unmanageable. Always remember: it's essential not to exceed the prescribed dosage and to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully when taking Ultram due to its potential for dependency and withdrawal symptoms.

What are the most common side effects for Lyrica?

Common side effects of Lyrica can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Somnolence (sleepiness/drowsiness)
  • Dry mouth
  • Edema (swelling)
  • Blurred vision
  • Weight gain and increased appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating or attention disorder
  • Euphoria (feeling of intense happiness or excitement)

While Ultram, on the other hand, is known to cause these common side effects:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Sweating

It should be noted that not every individual will experience these side effects, but it's crucial to keep an eye out for any abnormal changes when taking new medications. Always consult your healthcare provider if you notice any unusual symptoms.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Lyrica?

While both Lyrica and Ultram are medications used for managing chronic pain, they can have different side effects. Be alert to any of these serious side effects while taking either medication:

  • Suicidal thinking or behavior
  • Severe allergic reactions: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Skin problems: redness, blistering rash that may be accompanied by fever, sore throat, and eye irritation
  • Vision changes: blurred vision, double vision or other sight problems
  • Heart issues: rapid heartbeat or palpitations; light-headedness indicative of potential heart rate fluctuations
  • Electrolyte imbalance - symptoms might include persistent headache, confusion due to low sodium levels in the body; extreme weakness leading to loss of coordination could also indicate this.

For Lyrica specifically:

  • Muscle rigidity along with high fever and sweating could imply a rare reaction affecting nervous system

With Ultram usage:

Watch out for signs pointing towards Serotonin syndrome such as agitation & restlessness hallucinations if they occur alongside fever and excessive sweating. Muscle stiffness and twitching coupled with nausea/vomiting/diarrhea are also indications.

If you experience any of these symptoms while on either drug protocol it's essential to seek immediate medical attention since some complications can turn life-threatening.

What are the most common side effects for Ultram?

Ultram (tramadol) can lead to a variety of side effects, including:

  • Dry mouth and throat discomfort
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
  • Blurred vision
  • Gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, constipation or loss of appetite
  • Sleep disturbances like insomnia
  • Nervousness and anxiety may occur along with sweating episodes
  • Increased heart rate
  • Confusion or agitation might be experienced by some individuals; hostility is less common but possible
  • Occurrences of skin rash have been reported
  • Some users report unusual weight loss
  • Frequent urination could also happen
  • Headache and dizziness are not uncommon complaints after Ultram use. -Muscular pain or joint discomfort may arise.

As always, it's crucial to understand that everyone reacts differently to medication so it's best for patients to consult their doctor if they experience any adverse symptoms.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Ultram?

While Ultram (tramadol) is generally well-tolerated, it can in some instances cause severe side effects. These may include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction or severe skin reaction: hives, itching, fever, swollen glands, difficulty breathing; swelling of your face or throat
  • Symptoms suggestive of serotonin syndrome: agitation, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, fever; excessive sweating
  • Severe breathing problems that could lead to loss of consciousness or death
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior which might manifest as anxiety and restlessness
  • Seizures (convulsions), especially if you have ever had seizures before
  • Indications of liver damage such as nausea and vomiting coupled with a yellowing tinge on the skin and eyes
  • Rapid heart rate or palpitations

If any such symptoms are experienced while taking Ultram, immediate medical attention should be sought.

Contraindications for Lyrica and Ultram?

Lyrica and Ultram, like most medications used for pain management, can potentially worsen existing depression or anxiety in some people. If you notice your mental health deteriorating, or an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior after starting these drugs, please seek immediate medical help.

Neither Lyrica nor Ultram should be taken if you are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) as it could lead to dangerous interactions. Always inform your physician about all the medications you're currently taking; MAOIs will require a period of approximately 14 days to clear from the system before starting Lyrica or Ultram to prevent any serious complications.

How much do Lyrica and Ultram cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 60 tablets of Ultram (50 mg) averages around $120, which works out to approximately $2-$4/day depending on your dose.
  • The cost for a package of 30 Lyrica capsules (75 mg) is about $470, working out to roughly $15.67 per day.

Thus, if you are in the higher dosage range for Ultram (i.e., 200 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Lyrica may be less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. However, it's important to note that cost should not be the primary consideration when determining which medication is right for you.

When considering generic versions of these medications:

  • Tramadol hydrochloride (the active ingredient in Ultram) costs significantly less and comes in packs starting from 30 up to hundreds of tablets with approximate costs ranging from as low as $0.10 per day and not exceeding about $1.00/per day.
  • Pregabalin (generic form of Lyrica) also offers substantial savings over its branded counterpart with prices starting at around just under a dollar ($0.90–$1.20/day).

Popularity of Lyrica and Ultram

Pregabalin, also known by its brand name Lyrica, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 4.2 million people in the US in 2020. Pregabalin accounted for just over 14% of prescriptions for neuropathic pain management in the US. It's a popular choice because it can be used not only for various types of nerve and muscle pain, but also as an adjunctive therapy for partial seizures.

Tramadol, including brand versions such as Ultram, was prescribed to an estimated 8.7 million people in the USA during the same year. In terms of overall opioid prescriptions within the country, tramadol accounts for approximately 15%. Its popularity is largely attributed to its dual action mechanism; apart from providing relief from moderate to severe pain like other opioids do, it also inhibits reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine similarily to some antidepressants - which might enhance its analgesic effect through these additional mechanisms.


Both Lyrica (pregabalin) and Ultram (tramadol) have been used extensively in the management of various types of pain, particularly neuropathic pain. They are backed by several clinical studies demonstrating their effectiveness over placebo treatments. Occasionally, physicians may recommend taking both drugs together for certain patients; however, this is done under careful consideration due to potential drug interactions.

Their mechanisms of action differ: Lyrica works primarily by inhibiting the release of certain neurotransmitters responsible for transmitting pain signals across nerves, while Ultram operates as a mild opioid receptor agonist and also inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine.

In terms of prescription hierarchy, either could be considered as initial therapy based on individual patient factors such as type and severity of pain or co-existing conditions. Both are available in generic forms which can represent significant cost savings for patients who need to pay out-of-pocket expenses.

The side effect profiles between these two drugs also vary somewhat: common side effects associated with Lyrica include dizziness and sedation whereas Ultram has a risk profile similar to opioids including nausea, constipation, dizziness among others. For both medications it's important that patients monitor their responses carefully when starting treatment or adjusting doses; seeking immediate medical advice if they experience severe adverse reactions or signs indicative of dependency or overdose.