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Invited Commentary
February 2015

Tramadol and Hypoglycemia: One More Thing to Worry About

Author Affiliations
  • 1Emergency Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York
  • 2General Internal Medicine, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(2):194-195. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.5260

Pain is one of the leading reasons why patients seek medical attention, and over the past 2 decades, clinicians, health care institutions, medical organizations, and regulators have become increasingly attentive to its management. Yet despite the importance of pain as a clinical entity, the well of approved pharmacologic options is shallow, consisting principally of acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and opioids, along with off-label alternatives including certain anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and a smattering of other drugs for some types of pain. However, the expectation that analgesics can significantly reduce or abolish pain is often overly optimistic and can lead to the progressive use of higher doses of stronger analgesics without a reasonable benchmark for success or failure. The subjective nature of pain, which can fluctuate and which lacks the objective quantification that many clinicians are accustomed to, further complicates this assessment. Nonpharmacologic approaches such as physical therapy, meditation, exercise, and weight loss are harder to implement than medication because they are time consuming, labor intensive, and often not covered by insurance, even though each is supported by evidence of safety and effectiveness in selected patients.

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    1 Comment for this article
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    The other reason for increase use of tramadol
    Mark McConnell, MD | VA
    Those of us in practice for over 20 years have noticed the following:1. A well meaning, misguided effort to make \"pain\" a \"vital sign\"2. Rampant use of oxycontin and gabapentin3. Raising \"pain\" to the level of a diagnosis rather than seeking the cause of pain4. Now, this year, we are no longer to give patients refills of hydrocodoneI agree that all of these pain meds carry risk. But the administrative and clerical and phone time for patients on chronic hydrocodone has increased by a factor of 6 (now we have to write renewals every 28-30 days). I believe this is a factor in the increased use of tramadol.
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
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