Tramadol is the generic name of an opiate analgesic with additional SNRI used to treat moderate to moderately severe pain. Vicodin, the brand name for hydrocodone+acetaminophen, is also used to relieve moderate to severe pain and is a narcotic painkiller with a risk of dependency and abuse. Neither Tramadol nor Vicodin is available over the counter.

Comparison chart

Tramadol versus Vicodin comparison chart
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Generic name Tramadol Acetaminophen and hydrocodone
Dosage 100 mg once daily, titrated up as necessary by 100 mg increments every 5 days to relieve pain; not to exceed 300 mg a day. 1-2 every 4 to six hours, as needed
Side effects Dizziness, weakness, sleepiness, insomnia, headache, nervousness, uncontrollable shaking muscle tightness, changes in mood, heartburn/indigestion, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, sweating, dry mouth Dizziness, drowsiness, mild nausea, constipation, blurred vision, dry mouth, headache, mood changes, ringing in ears
Class of Drugs Opiate analgesic Opiate analgesic
Uses Moderate to severe pain relief Moderate to severe pain relief
Addiction Prone to dependence Addictive
Overdose May lead to unconsciousness or coma Can lead to liver damage and death
Other brand names Conzip, Rybix ODT, Rysolt, Ultram, Ultram ER, Ultracet Anexsia, Co-Gesic, Hycet, Liquicet, Lorcet, Maxidone, Norco, Polygesic, Stagesic, Xodol, Zemicet, Zolvit, Zydone


Tramadol is an opiate analgesic with additional serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibiting effects. Tramadol is the drug found under brand names Conzip, Rybix ODT, Rysolt, Ultram, Ultram ER and Ultracet. It comes in the following forms: 50 mg immediate-release tablets; 50 mg orally disintegrating tablets; 100 mg, 200 mg, and 300 mg extended-release tablets; and 100 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, and 300 mg extended-release capsules.

Vicodin is the brand name for hydrocodone/acetaminophen, a narcotic pain killer used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Other brands containing hydrocodone/acetaminophen are Hycet, Lorcet, Lorcet Plus, Lortab, Maxidone, Norco, Vicodin ES, Vicodin HP, Zamicet and Zydone. Vicodin comes in the forms of tablet, capsule, syrup, solution, extended-release (long-acting) capsule and extended-release (long-acting) suspension (liquid).

How They Work

Tramadol is a serotonin releaser and reuptake inhibitor of norepinephrine. This means the drug decreases the brain's perception of pain. Tramadol can be habit-forming and prone to dependence or abuse. This video touches upon how Tramadol works, its effects and abuse:

Vicodin is a semi-synthetic narcotic, opioid pain reliever. It changes the way the brain responds to pain.

Directions for Use

Both Tramadol and Vicodin are to be taken by mouth every four to six hours, with or without food – food is helpful to alleviate nausea.


Tramadol's maximum dosage is 400 milligrams per day. Vicodin's maximum dosage goes according to the acetaminophen level in the pills, not to exceed 4,000 milligrams of acetaminophen.

Release Time

Both Tramadol and Vicodin have a time release of 20 to 30 minutes and can be habit-forming. Vicodin may also cause false positive results in lab tests.


Both Tramadol and Vicodin should be stored at room temperature away from excess heat and moisture. They have a shelf life of three years.


According to a randomized, double-blind study [1] comparing the efficacy of tramadol with hydrocodone-acetaminophen in acute musculoskeletal pain, it was seen that tramadol is not as effective an analgesic as hydrocodone-acetaminophen.

Medical History Precautions

Specific medical histories should be revealed to doctors before taking Tramadol or Vicodin, specifically brain disorders such as head injury, tumor or seizures; breathing problems, such as asthma, sleep apnea or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD; kidney disease; liver disease; mental/mood disorders, such as confusion, depression or suicidal thoughts; personal or family history of regular use/abuse of drugs/alcohol; stomach/intestinal problems, such as blockage, constipation, diarrhea due to infection or paralytic ileus; and difficulty urinating, such as due to enlarged prostate.


Overdose symptoms of Tramadol include decreased size of the pupil, difficulty breathing, extreme drowsiness, unconsciousness, coma, slowed heartbeat, muscle weakness and cold or clammy skin.

People may also experience overdose with Vicodin. Symptoms of overdose include narrowed or widened pupils; slow, shallow, or stopped breathing; slowed or stopped heartbeat; cold, clammy, or blue skin; excessive sleepiness; loss of consciousness; seizures and death.

Side Effects

Common, but not-serious side effects of Tramadol include dizziness, weakness, sleepiness, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, headache, nervousness, uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body, muscle tightness, changes in mood, heartburn or indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, sweating and dry mouth. More serious side effects, which are rare, include seizures, fever, hives, rash, blisters, difficulty swallowing or breathing, hoarseness, hallucinations, agitation, loss of consciousness, lack of coordination, a fast heartbeat and swelling of the eyes, face, throat, tongue, lips, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs.

Using Vicodin also carries with it certain side effects. Common, not-serious side effects include nausea, vomiting, constipation, drowsiness, dizziness, light-headedness, fuzzy thinking, anxiety, abnormally happy or abnormally sad mood, dry throat, difficulty urinating, rash, itching and narrowing of the pupils. More serious but rare side effects include slowed or irregular breathing and chest tightness.

People who stop taking either Tramadol or Vicodin may experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms for both Tramadol and Vicodin include restlessness, watering eyes, runny nose, nausea, sweating and muscle aches.

Drug Interactions

Tramadol interacts with the following durgs:

Vicodin also interacts with:


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