Compare Tramadol vs. Morphine sulfate

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Ultram
(Tramadol)

Ms Contin
(Morphine Sulfate)

Treats moderate to severe pain. Ultram (Tramadol) works well to treat severe pain and mood changes. Although it's a little weaker than other opioids, it can still be addictive.Treats severe pain. Ms Contin (Morphine Sulfate) provides good long-term pain control without the need to take medicine frequently, but watch out for constipation.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
4.585284280936455Tramadol
Reviews for Ultram (Tramadol)
61%
of people say Ultram (Tramadol) is worth it
39%
say it works well
16%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Ms Contin (Morphine Sulfate)
55%
6% vs. Ultram (Tramadol)
43%
+4% vs. Ultram (Tramadol)
20%
4% vs. Ultram (Tramadol)
Side effects
TramadolMorphine sulfate
  • Dizziness (not vertigo) 21%
  • Flushing 12%
  • Itching 11%
  • Dry mouth 10%
  • Dizziness 9%
  • Sleep difficulty 8%
  • Positional low blood pressure 3%
More Tramadol side effects »

The Morphine sulfate FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Morphine sulfate side effects »
How it works
TramadolMorphine sulfate
Ultram (Tramadol) is an atypical opioid pain reliever. Researchers don't know exactly how it works, but it alters certain brain chemicals to lower pain perception and improve mood.Ms Contin (Morphine Sulfate) is an opioid medicine that works in the brain to lower pain perception.
Type of medication
TramadolMorphine sulfate
Pain reliever
Opioid
Prescription only
Pain reliever
Opioid
Prescription only
Available as
TramadolMorphine sulfate
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Extended release capsule
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Oral solution
  • Liquid
  • Suppository
Used for (click to learn more)
TramadolMorphine sulfate
Risk factors for serious side effects
TramadolMorphine sulfate
  • Higher dose
  • Using other medicines that can cause seizures
  • History of seizures
  • Alcoholism
  • Eating disorders
  • Brain infections
  • Suicidal or at risk
  • Taking other medications that affect serotonin
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Using other medications that affect serotonin
  • History of allergic reactions to codeine or other opioid pain relievers
  • Phenylalanine sensitivity
  • Stopping Ultram (Tramadol) suddenly
  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Taking with alcohol or drugs
  • Taking with alcohol or drugs
    Detailed Ultram (Tramadol) risks & warnings »
    • Current use of medicine that affects liver enzyme CYP 3A4
    • Age 65 or greater
    • Higher dose
    • People with not enough thyroid hormones
    • History of lung problems
    • Children age 18 and younger
    • Long-term use during pregnancy
    • Taking more than the prescribed dose
    • Long-term use
    • History of drug abuse
    • Taking with alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
    • Age 65 or greater
    • Age 65 years or older
    Detailed Ms Contin (Morphine Sulfate) risks & warnings »
    Pregnancy category
    TramadolMorphine sulfate
    CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

    Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

    See the FDA package insert
    CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

    Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

    See the FDA package insert
    Alcohol
    • Serious side effects may include drug abuse, dependence, slowed breathing rate (respiratory depression), and death. Don't take more than your doctor prescribes or take with alcohol, illegal drugs, or other opioid pain relievers.
    No specific alcohol-related info.
    Food
    • Take Ultram (Tramadol) with food to avoid an upset stomach.
    • Take it with food to lower the chance of an upset stomach.
    Kidneys and liver
    • There are different doses for people who are older or who have liver or kidney disease, so work with your doctor to get the right dose.
    No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
    Sex
    No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
    Sleep
    • Can make you dizzy or drowsy, so avoid activities that need you to be fully alert until you know how this medicine affects you.
    • Dizziness and drowsiness is common, but your body may adjust.
    • Can make you dizzy or drowsy.
    Weight
    No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
    Upsides and benefits
    TramadolMorphine sulfate
    • Relieves moderate to severe pain. It has been shown to work as well as other opioid pain medications.
    • Compared to typical opioids, it provides unique pain relief and effects on your mood when taken regularly.
    • Has a lower chance of causing breathing problems compared to other typical opioids.
    • Doesn't cause as much constipation as other opioid pain medicines. Staying hydrated and taking laxatives can help treat this side effect.
    • Provides longer relieve for moderate to severe pain to improve quality of life.
    • Good for chronic pain that requires around-the-clock relief.
    • Might have fewer side effects than other opioid pain relievers.
    Downsides and risks
    TramadolMorphine sulfate
    • Some people think it's weaker than other opioid pain medications. It can also cause more upset stomach.
    • Like other opioid pain relievers, Tramadol has a high risk of addiction, abuse, misuse, overdose, and death. It should only be used for severe pain that requires daily, around-the-clock treatment once alternative treatments haven't worked.
    • It isn't used for short-term, as-needed pain relief.
    • It's a controlled substance regulated by the federal government. This means that your use of Ultram (Tramadol) will be tracked to prevent potential prescription abuse.
    • To get Ultram (Tramadol) in the pharmacy, you'll need to bring in a paper prescription directly from your doctor.
    • Doesn't work for as-needed or quick pain relief.
    • Dizziness and drowsiness is common, but your body may adjust.
    • Everyone will get constipation - always stay hydrated and take stool softener or stimulant on days you're taking Ms Contin (Morphine Sulfate) if you need.
    • Long term use will likely cause physical dependence.
    • Must be weaned slowly off the medicine after use longer than 2 weeks.
    Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
    TramadolMorphine sulfate
    • Starts working in one hour and works best if you take it regularly.
    • Can make you dizzy or drowsy, so avoid activities that need you to be fully alert until you know how this medicine affects you.
    • Take Ultram (Tramadol) with food to avoid an upset stomach.
    • There are different doses for people who are older or who have liver or kidney disease, so work with your doctor to get the right dose.
    • Swallow the extended-release tablets whole. They're designed to release the drug slowly and breaking, crushing, or chewing them could cause a serious overdose.
    • Opioid pain medicine that provides longer pain relief—up to 12 hours.
    • Works best when taken regularly instead of as-needed.
    • Especially useful for people with chronic pain problems.
    • May not be the best choice for people who have never taken an opioid pain medicine because it lasts so long.
    • Swallow it whole. Don't crush, chew, or split the medicine.
    • Can make you dizzy or drowsy.
    • Avoid activities that need you to be fully alert until you know how it affects you.
    • Take it with food to lower the chance of an upset stomach.
    • Constipation is common and may not go away while you're taking this medicine. Drinking lots of water and taking laxatives can help.
    • Talk to your doctor if it doesn't help enough for your pain, or if the side effects are really bad.
    Learn more
    More about TramadolSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
    More about Morphine sulfateSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert