Nucynta Vs. Oxycodone | Differences & Similarities

Nucynta and oxycodone are opioid medications used to treat those suffering from various types of pain. While similar in many areas such as side effects and drug interactions, the drugs have differences as well.

Tapentadol and oxycodone (brand names Nucynta and OxyContin, respectively) are prescription opioid analgesic medications used to help treat acute pain. While these pain relief medications are similar, the main difference is approved uses.

Nucynta Vs. Oxycodone | Differences

Although these central nervous system (CNS) depressant medications also help treat chronic pain, the drugs can ultimately be used for different purposes.

Approved Uses

Nucynta and oxycodone are available in immediate release (oxycodone IR) and extended release tablets (ER). In this way, the drugs help treat moderate to severe pain as well.

However, Nucynta ER is used to treat severe neuropathic pain associated with a condition known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy while oxycodone is not used for this purpose.

Nucynta Vs. Oxycodone | Similarities

There are a wide variety of similarities between these two opioid drugs. 

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Nucynta and oxycodone are both Schedule II controlled substances, meaning they have a high potential for abuse which can lead to physical or psychological dependence.

Side Effects

Both opioids can create a range of side effects which are similar. As stated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the use of tapentadol and oxycodone may include the following side effects:

  • sedation
  • released inhibitions
  • constipation
  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • adrenal insufficiency
  • dry mouth
  • somnolence
  • headache

Drug Interactions

The FDA-approved Nucynta and oxycodone should not be combined with other CNS depressants. In fact, these opioid drugs should not be combined with certain antidepressants, as drug interactions can take place.

Antidepressants to avoid include monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Serotonergic drugs and triptans such as these can result in serotonin syndrome, a life-threatening health condition.

In addition to these medications, others to avoid include:

  • benzodiazepines
  • tramadol
  • antihistamines
  • alcohol
  • over-the-counter pain medications
  • fentanyl
  • hydrocodone
  • hydromorphone
  • buprenorphine
  • methadone

Pre-Existing Conditions

It is recommended that those with certain health conditions should avoid Nucynta and oxycodone. Examples of these conditions include:

  • patients with a head injury
  • patients with severe hepatic impairment
  • patients with severe renal impairment
  • patients with seizure disorders
  • patients with the condition paralytic ileus
  • elderly or debilitated patients

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

There are similar withdrawal symptoms associated with Nucynta and oxycodone, including:

  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • low back pain
  • sleeping problems
  • severe cravings for the drug
  • gastrointestinal issues
  • runny nose
  • mental health problems such as anxiety or depression

Opioid Overdose

Nucynta and oxycodone have similar overdose symptoms. A fatal overdose can occur if a large amount of the drugs are taken or combined with other substances. Symptoms of an opioid overdose include:

  • fluctuations in heart rate
  • cold or clammy skin
  • hypotension
  • respiratory depression
  • coma
  • death

An overdose can be life-threatening. If an overdose is suspected, seek urgent medical attention. Doctors may administer naloxone (Narcan) to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Treating Opioid Use

For those of you struggling with substance abuse, consider finding treatment at Ohio Recovery Center. At our treatment center, we offer a variety of treatment options for those struggling with prescription drug use.

Contact us today to speak with one of our healthcare representatives who can fill you in on our many treatment plans and assist you on your road to recovery.

Nucynta VS. Oxycodone Frequently Asked Questions

Given the similarities between these two drugs, there are a number of questions people frequently ask regarding the chemical make-up of each drugs and their differing effects on the brain and body.

Nucynta interacts with the mu-opioid receptors in the brain to inhibit norepinephrine reuptake and interrupt pre- and post-synaptic signals.

Oxycodone works similarly, but it does not block the reuptake of norepinephrine. As a result, Nucynta is more effective for treating some types of severe pain.

Nucynta and oxycodone are both habit forming and come with a host of potential negative side effects.

With that said, the risk of opioid abuse is marginally lower in patients who use Nucynta. These patients are also somewhat less likely to experience relatively mild symptoms like nausea.

Nucynta is better for some forms of pain, but the additional effects of blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine can have some side effects that are not common with oxycodone.

Sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and fatigue are often associated with serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.

Nucynta and oxycodone are both opioid agonists.

Other opioid agonists include morphine, codeine, and fentanyl.

  1. Food and Drug Administration
  2. Food and Drug Administration
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse
  4. National Library of Medicine: DailyMed
  5. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus
  6. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus
  7. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: August 22, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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