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Fibromyalgia Action UK
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Have just finished a ten week taper off of tramadol as had upped the dose a lot as it stopped killing the pain every couple of weeks. Does anyone know how long the tinnitus and brain zaps last? I'm taking l thianine and 5-HTP and they seem to help. But at night in bed I get the tinnitus and brain zap very badly. And restless leg. Whoever invented that drug needs shooting and I think docs should stop prescribing it. Nailing an opioid to an SNRI is not clever. It says that the drug is non narcotic. It has an opioid. How can it. Not be a narcotic and having had a terrible time on venlafaxine (Effexor) last year I am completely surprised that my doc gave me it. The taper took 4 weeks longer than I actually needed it as a painkiller. Has anyone any idea how long this nightmare, which the last seven weeks have been, takes before I'm free of this awful drug. Non narcotic and no withdrawal they said. No you get two withdrawals for the price of one. I got the shivers and jitters for a few days from opioid withdrawal. I don't think I took it long enough for opioid withdrawal to cause much of a problem. But I've now had tinnitus and brain zaps about once every 30 seconds for about 4 weeks. I'm now completely off tramadol and probably my situation it is at its worst. Does anyone know how long to expect this. I'm only sleeping about 1-2 hours a night and can't stand much more. This drug should have class A stamped all over it or withdrawn completely. I can't believe that it can be bought OTC n some states in America

Does anyone know of any class action in the UK? Coz if so after this nightmare I want some action on the manufacturers and licence holders of "ultram" it's non generic name

Thanks for your help and I hope you are all in better health than me at the moment. But not from my condition but from the drug that was supposed to help

11 Replies

I was very luck with Tramadol as I only took it for about a month and stopped using it as though it helped immensely with pain it gave me a 24/7 strange headache that made life so miserable that I would rather have the pain. Two friends who took it after knee operations swore by it and had not trouble coming off it but of course in both cases they only took it for about a month.

Unfortunately, we all react to durgs differently and hence the withdrawal symptoms can carry on much longer and be different in individuals.

Hope someone else can come on and help you. I just did not want you to think you were out there on your own as I had a big battle years back to come off Ativan and I would not wish that on my worse enemy. Big hugs coming your way.x


Sorry to hear you have had this reaction to this drug. I take tramadol and have found it to be ok. I do take in moderation though and only when the pain is really unbearable to the point of tears. My GP warned me not to take too frequently and said that they upgraded the drug and no repeat prescriptions without seeing GP first. I do have problems with a lot of other drugs though and have really bad adverse reactions to things with codeine. I also have tinnitus but this started before I ever took tramadol and think it is linked to fibromyalgia. We are not all the same and what drug works for some doesnt for others. Hopefully you will find something that helps soon. Gentle hugs Joolz.x


Thanks for the replies guys.

I had no such warnings from my GP who hanged them out like smarties. I'm not diagnosed yet and don't know what is causing my pain. I had UC in the early nineties which, thankfully I've got rid of. But by then I was steroid dependent. I was on 20 mg of prednisolone for 18 YEARS!!

I did exercise a lot and took alendronic acid and cal ochre vitamin supplements and my latest DEXA scan shows my bone density well within the range for my age. My doc wanted to get me off pred so he sent me to an endocrinologist who put me on 30mg of hydrocortisone, which is about double what your body produces daily. It was fantastic. No anxiety, shakes, sweating,aggressive responses.

After 5 weeks of feeling the best I had for 20 years, I woke up one morning and couldn't move. It took me about 5 minutes just to turn over in bed and about half an hour to get up.

Anyway after several episodes of this each lasting until I put the hydrocortisone up to about 80mg.

The doc then put me back on pred and I saw a rheumatologist he believes I have an underlying inflammatory disease that has been kept in check by pred. I also have RA as well as the UC so two other auto immune diseases

The pain was so severe in my feet

That it felt like I was walking on red hot broken glass. I had to keep upping the dose of tramadol until I was on 5 tablets 4 times a day!! I came off gradually with no problems until I got down to 1 tab four times a day. Then removing a dose at a time replacing with diazepam which I have no trouble with. Now on no tablets and am using 5-htp and l thianine. But I'm left with the brain zaps and tinnitus. Plus nightmares hallucinations etc

I don't think that some GPs know how addictive and dangerous this drug can be. Apparently the manufacturers are so confident that this drug is not addictive that they haven't issued advice to GPs on phased withdrawal. I've read horror stories from ex heroin addicts who say that tramadol is far worse to come off than heroin.

Thanks for your replies

Am hoping it's a matter of days, not months.


Hi im not an expert but I would have expected it to be out of your system by now, after four weeks of not taking any.

Tramadol is a controlled drug that you have to sign twice for at the chemist.

I would return to your GP if the symptoms are not getting any better, as you may need to be admitted to hospital to help.

Good luck


1 like

I may have not written this properly. I have only been totally off it for a couple of days. But during the taper it was uncomfortable with tinnitus and brain zaps. Since I have stopped completely it has turned to hell. I have run out of diazepam to stop the brain zaps but as I have my weekly appointment with my GP tomorrow he asked if I could hold out till tomorrow. Like a fool I said yes. I'm using 5-htp and l thianine and they help but I literally don't know what to do with myself. Stand up. Sit down. Lie down. Try to sleep. Watch telly. Each is comfortable for a short while then I have to move. I assume this is "restless leg" syndrome.

With diazepam it's bearable. Without diazepam today and no doubt tonight I'm in a living nightmare. My brain zaps are coming every 10-15 seconds the tinnitus is loud and I've got all the other "cold turkey" symptoms. But I've been tapering slowly for about 9-10 weeks. So how can the effects be this bad? I've read from ex heroin users that tramadol is far worse than heroin to withdraw from.

I was not warned in any way about this until I looked on the web.

This is awful and tomorrow just can't come around quick enough. Plus all my pain has come back so I'm going to need an alternative. The only other one which worked properly was morphine but I was always tired with that. Does anyone know any strong painkillers that do not make you sleepy. Excluding co codamol, di hydro codeine, and tramadol. Otherwise I will have to go back onto morphine as my feet are so painful I can't walk. I'm waiting to go on to methotrexate or if I can't handle that azathioprine as I've been in that before and I had no problem with that. And it completely cleared my UC. I had a colonoscopy and the consultant said it has completely gone. Not a normal occurrence. So if anyone can recommend painkillers that are not on the list above it I would be most grateful

Thank you all for your help.



ill take a look


I have never used Tramadol but I want to genuinely wish you all the best of luck with this.

All my hopes and dreams for you



Thanks ken.

Once again it's 3:30 am and I've had to get up as I'm disturbing my Liz who has to be up for work at 5. This is the 3rd time since 10 pm that I've had to get up and come downstairs due to restless leg, tinnitus and brain zaps. Been completely off tramadol for 4 days now and it's like a living hell. I tapered very slowly but it still feels like cold turkey. Have run out of diazepam till the morning when I see my doc for my weekly check. You are lucky never to have Ben on tramadol on large regular doses. It has been said that its withdrawal effects are worse than heroin. It's not the opiate part that causes the problem. It's the SNRI part. I had the same trouble with venlafaxine. But nowhere near this bad. Brain zaps on venlafaxine withdrawal are once every 10-15 minutes. On tramadol withdrawal it's once every 20-30 seconds. So unless you are so tired that you just drop off its impossible to sleep. Going to ask doc to put me back on modified release morphine 60mg as that's the lowest dose that stops the pain. Will ask for fluoxetine to help with the SNRI withdrawal. Go back to hydrocortisone from prednisolone as it doesn't seem to stop the illness which still hasn't been diagnosed but is suspected to be Fibro poly or cfs

Then diazepam to finish the withdrawal then a quick taper from them.

I'm waiting for the all clear to start methotrexate. Had the lung tests over a week ago so hopefully that'll help. If I can't withstand methotrexate then it'll be back to azathioprine which helped get rid of my colitis. Got terrible arthritis on my hands that really is excessive for a 57 year old. And without pain meds I can hardly walk as my feet are so painful. My legs body and arms feel like a bus has hit them. My hands are totally useless and I can't even open a bottle to or do up buttons

If someone drops something like a pound coin on the floor the sound is like a cannon going off next to me and a crying baby will have my running, well stumbling for cover. Can't handle bright lights either. Pred used to stop it but not any more. So as you can see it looks like my immune system gets bored quickly and likes to bite lumps out of me. This only started in October last year. Before that I had been on pred but was very fit. Gym 3-4 times a week for 2-3?hours a time. Now haven't been once since this started muscles now flab lol.

Hope I can get some relief from methotrexate or azathioprine and get off morphine, diazepam and fluoxetine. Have to take hydrocortisone as my adrenals have been broken by 18 years on pred!! Had a DEXA two weeks ago. Well within normal range got my age. Doc puts it down to exercise and supplements. I remember you saying you now have osteoporosis Ken. How is that at the moment? I'm sitting her watching England pummel the Aussies for the nth time.

Hope your as well as you can be

Thanks for your message, and keep away from tramadol. And that's an order lol



I am so genuinely sorry to read that and I sincerely hope that you manage a good quality sleep tonight.


I'm on tramadol currently and I think it's amazing - it's the first time I feel my pain has been under any sort of control. I do not take it every day - only when they pain is at a level that I need some help on top of my other, regular painkillers.

You refer to tramadol as an opioid - in fact it is an opiate. So yes, it is addictive and yes, it can have withdrawal difficulties if used in high doses or for long term. You should not take any opioids while taking an opiate unless being closely monitored by your doctor as they interact and can lead to some severe side effects

You refer to your awful foot pain - what causes the pain in the feet? Do you have plantar fasciitis?

I was warned about the "brain zaps" - but have not experienced this for myself. Tinnitus is something I've suffered with for 20 years so I guess it *could* make it worse for me but I've not noticed a change. It's certainly listed as one of the side effects of withdrawal, but I've no idea how long it should/could last.

I assume you're based in the US, because in the UK tramadol is a controlled drug that requires two signatures at the pharmacy. I don't need to visit my gp for every prescription though, as someone said above, I just have the pharmacy order all my repeat prescriptions. It was prescribed for me initally by the PMC head pharmacist, so I assume that's why repeats hvae never been an issue.

If you ask your doctor how long you should expect to suffer with them for, and what to do if they haven't cleared up by that time frame, then that should set you up with a plan of action in case they persevere. I sincerely hope you do find some relief, preferably non-medically induced!

Do you have severe back pain too? If i may suggest - looking into Ehler's Danlos syndrome or Ankylosing Spondylitis might be beneficial. With all your "extra" problems (which I know so many of us have) there may be a lot more at play here. Fibro itself is a symptom of EDS.

Plantar fasciitis and achilles tendinitis along with some forms of arthritis and back, neck and peripheral joint pains and restless legs, also photophobia and tinnitus are symptomatic of AS.

There may be some dots to join, here. I wish you well and hope you find some relief very soon.


No I'm UK based

It only requires the collector to sign for it. And if I'm the patient and the collector I can sign both.

I had no problems with the opiate withdrawal as I got about 12 hors of the shivers. The rest were all the SNRI withdrawal effects. I've been on venlafaxine before an d it only has a very short half life. So you can miss a dose by an hour and start getting brain zaps and tinnitus. I went through 4 days of hell after finishing tramadol on Thursday. But it was worth it. I am now on MR morphine which does actually get rid of the pain. Prozac to get rid of the brain zaps etc. diazepam to get rid of the anxiety. I also changed back to hydrocortisone from prednisolone which will be nice. I'd been on 20mg pred daily for 18 years for UC. The U C has gone so an endocrinologist took me off pred and put me on hydrocortisone 30mg daily. That's a big drop in anti inflammatory power as the ratio is 5mg pred =20 mg HC

So when after 5 weeks this happened I assumed it was coming off pred and so did my GP.

They switched me back to pred and put me on tramadol. Everything stopped hurting at the 4x2 tablet daily regime. Except my feet and my hands. I have very bad RA in my hands. That's a little side gift from colitis. But it shows I'm prone to autoimmune diseases. So I stupidly kept upping the tramadol dose until I was on 6x4 daily. Brain zaps sickness you name it I got it. So I started at 5x4 tabs and dropped 4 tabs weekly so next week was 4x4 until I got to 1x4. By this time I was so ill and in pain that at 2x daily I just stopped. I'm told that stopping from 100mg is basically cold turkey. It felt like it. I got all the SNRI effects which are awful. I've only had one hours sleep since Friday but I think I'm going to sleep for England tonight.

Plantar fasciitis has been mentioned as has peripheral neuropathy. I have no pain in my back except muscular. That is the same for the rest of my body and only on a flare. I also get sound amplification. A baby crying on a bus and I'll get off coz I can't stand sudden noises, loud music no problem coz I know it's coming but sudden noises. I jump like mad. I can't stand bright lights either. This will go on 7-8 days and I control it with Meds then next day I wake up and it's gone. Just as quick as it arrived. It's got everyone puzzled as it doesn't fit any of the regular autoimmune diseases like Fibro or cfs or poly rheumatoid arthritis

Perhaps I've stated my own illness


If tramadol suit you then great. Do you only have to take them occasionally or do you have to take 4 or 8 daily?

Only it seems that people who have take them on a regular basis are the ones who have problems.

Thanks for mailing me and hope to here from you again

Cheers Pete


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