What Are The Differences Between Tramadol And Vicodin?

Pharmaceutical companies made Hydrocodone with Paracetamol drugs such as Vicodin as an improvement on the potent opioid Hydrocodone. Chemists added paracetamol so that they can lessen the dosage of hydrocodone without dampening the pain relieving property of the drug.

The Food and Drug Administration categorized the drug under Schedule II after they decided that its side effects and potency was too high to be classified only as a Schedule III drug. The categorization of drugs under schedules determines how high the potential for abuse of the drug is. (1)

Tramadol, which was introduced in the United States in 1994, is a synthetic opioid drug used to treat varying degrees of pain. The FDA did not categorize it in any schedule because they believe that its abuse potential is too low to be under one.(2)

Here are some significant differences between Tramadol and Vicodin:

Uses Of Tramadol And Vicodin

Vicodin’s primary purpose is very similar to Tramadol’s in a way that they are both used to treat medium to slightly severe types of pain. The difference lies in the fact that Vicodin contains two types of drugs to perform its function. One is Hydrocodone, which targets the user’s opioid receptors; while the other one is paracetamol.

Paracetamol is a very common pain reliever and analgesic. It works by reducing the body’s production of the pain hormone prostaglandins. Being an analgesic mean that Paracetamol can lessen fever symptoms of the user.

A study has shown that Tramadol can also help surgery patients to help reduce post anesthesia shivering. Patients who were administered general anesthesia often experience post-Anesthesia Shivering.

Also Read: Tramadol Vs Hydrocodone

Side Effects Of Tramadol And Vicodin

Hydrocodone, Vicodin’s main component, is believed to have more adverse side effects than Tramadol. Tramadol, a synthetic opioid, is also thought to have a lower abuse potential than Hydrocodone combination drugs like Vicodin. (3)

However, due to the presence of Acetaminophen, the drug’s pain relieving property has increased without any increase in the likelihood of its side effects.

Listed below are some side effects that are common to both drugs: 

  • Dizziness
  • Asthenia/ Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Itching
  • Mild Anorexia/ Lack of Appetite
  • Nausea and Vomiting

There are also some side effects that are more common to each drug compared to the other, such as:

A. Tramadol:

  • Sore throat
  • Seizures

B. Vicodin

  • Respiratory Depression
  • Low Blood pressure

Effect On Pregnant Women

The Food and Drug Administration has enough evidence to believe that both Tramadol and Hydrocodone combination drugs have high potentials to affect unborn fetuses negatively. There have been researches that suggest that newly born fetuses show signs of withdrawal symptoms after being born from mothers that take these drugs.

Research done by the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California has also shown that paracetamol can cause ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder on children born from women who take it.

ADHD is a mental disorder that causes a person to have difficulties in maintaining focus and controlling impulsive behaviors. (4)

Price Of Tramadol And Vicodin

A patient can buy Tramadol’s generic versions at an average price of $50 per 30 120 mg packs. However, pharmacies sell its branded version, Ultram, at $83 for the same amount. Patients can use their Medicare, or other insurances to pay for the Tramadol. (6)

One can buy Vicodin oral tablets for an average price of $146 per 100 tablets (325 mg-5 mg formulation). Buying the drug from unlicensed individuals can, however, cost you $5 or even more per tablet. (7)

Tramadol and Vicodin are both powerful drugs. The choice between them to should be under the supervision of an attending physician. Misusing any of these drugs may result in adverse or even fatal consequences.

Tramadol And Vicodin Interaction

Taking Hydrocodone combination drugs with other opioids like Tramadol is highly discouraged by the medical society. This is because doing so may result in opioid overdose which can be fatal. It may also increase the possibility of respiratory depression, or shortage of breath among users.(5)

Always disclose to your attending physician if you are currently taking any drugs before asking for a Vicodin prescription.


Tramadol HCL. (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2017, from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-4398-5239/tramadol-oral/tramadol-oral/details

Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen. (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2017,  from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-251/hydrocodone-acetaminophen-oral/details

“Vicodin Prescribing Information for Health Care Professionals”. www.vicodin.com. Retrieved 2017-08-03.

Becker, Daniel E. (2011-01-01). “Adverse Drug Interactions”. Anesthesia Progress. 58(1): 31–41.

Tramadol Prices, Coupons and Patient Assistance Programs. (n.d.). Retrieved August 3, 2017, from Drugs: https://www.drugs.com/price-guide/tramadol