Ultram vs Vicodin

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For patients suffering from severe and chronic pain, certain drugs that interact with opioid receptors in the brain can provide substantial relief. Ultram (tramadol) and Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen) are two such medications commonly prescribed for managing moderate to severe pain. Both of these drugs work by altering the way your body perceives pain, but they do so through different mechanisms. Ultram is a centrally acting synthetic opioid analgesic that inhibits reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin while also activating opiate receptors in the central nervous system to enhance inhibitory effects on pain transmission. On the other hand, Vicodin is a combination drug containing hydrocodone, an opioid agonist, and acetaminophen, which works by increasing the threshold to painful stimuli in the central nervous system.

What is Ultram?

Tramadol (the generic name for Ultram) was introduced as a novel, centrally acting analgesic with opioid-like potency. Tramadol was approved by the FDA in 1995. Ultram works by interacting with the body's opioid receptors and inhibiting the reuptake of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, thus helping to relieve moderate to severe pain levels. It is often prescribed for post-operative pain or chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia.

Hydrocodone/acetaminophen (the generic name for Vicodin) is an opioid medication used primarily for treating severe acute or chronic pain, first approved by the FDA in 1982. As opposed to Ultram, Vicodin directly binds to and activates opioid receptors found throughout the central nervous system which effectively blocks incoming pain messages from nerves to brain.

Both medications have potential side effects including constipation, dizziness and potential risk of addiction; however, because Vicodin has direct action on opioid receptors it has higher abuse potential compared to Ultram which only partially stimulates these receptors.

What conditions is Ultram approved to treat?

Ultram (tramadol) is approved for the management of various types of pain:

  • Moderate to moderately severe chronic or acute pain
  • Pain associated with conditions like fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and low back pain
  • Postoperative or injury-related pain

While Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen), is also used in the treatment of:

  • Moderate to moderately severe chronic or acute pain
  • Dental discomfort post-procedure
  • Pain following injuries or surgery

How does Ultram help with these illnesses?

Ultram, also known as Tramadol, helps manage moderate to severe pain by altering the way your body senses and responds to pain signals. It does this by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and blocking them from receiving pain messages sent by nerves throughout the body. By doing so, Ultram effectively reduces perceived discomfort. Additionally, it prevents reabsorption of serotonin and norepinephrine in the synapses of your nervous system. This allows these neurotransmitters - which play vital roles in mood regulation and response to stress - to remain active for longer periods of time.

Vicodin similarly manages moderate-to-severe pain but through a slightly different mechanism. It combines Hydrocodone (an opioid agonist) with acetaminophen (a less potent analgesic that enhances the effects of hydrocodone). The result is not only effective at reducing physical discomfort but also elicits feelings of relaxation and well-being due to its effect on how our brains perceive pleasure.

Both medications can be habit-forming if misused or taken long-term beyond prescribed amounts; therefore they should be used under careful medical supervision.

What is Vicodin?

Vicodin, a brand name for the combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, is an opioid analgesic that works by altering the perception and response to pain while also reducing fever due to its acetaminophen content. It received FDA approval in 1982. As Vicodin belongs to the opioids family, it doesn't function like non-opioid pain relievers such as Ultram (tramadol). This means it has a different side-effect profile from tramadol; specifically, it can cause sedation and potentially lead to physical dependence or addiction - common characteristics of opioids which are not typically associated with drugs like Ultram. The effect on opioid receptors makes Vicodin highly effective at managing severe pain conditions where non-opioid analgesics may fall short.

What conditions is Vicodin approved to treat?

Vicodin, a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, is approved by the FDA for the relief of moderate to severe pain that other treatments have not been able to alleviate. Some conditions Vicodin can be used for include:

  • Chronic or acute pain resulting from injury
  • Post-operative pain management
  • Severe toothache or dental procedures It's important to note that due to its potential for abuse and addiction, Vicodin should only be used under close medical supervision.

How does Vicodin help with these illnesses?

Vicodin, a potent combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, works by transforming into the opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. This blocks pain signals on their route to the brain and alters one's perception of distress. As with Ultram (tramadol), it effectively manages moderate to severe pain but has a higher potential for addiction due to its narcotic component. Vicodin's action on both the opioid receptors as well as its indirect effect in reducing inflammation through acetaminophen make it a powerful analgesic option. Since it carries significant risk for dependence, however, it is usually prescribed when milder drugs like tramadol are not effective at managing symptoms or if patients have developed tolerance towards lower potency opioids.

How effective are both Ultram and Vicodin?

Both tramadol (Ultram) and hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin) have long histories of success in managing moderate to severe pain, with both drugs approved by the FDA in the late 20th century. Since they act on different parts of the pain pathway, they may be prescribed under different circumstances. The effectiveness of Ultram and Vicodin in alleviating postoperative pain was directly studied in a double-blind clinical trial; both drugs demonstrated similar efficacy for short-term use after surgery.

A 2013 meta-analysis reported that while tramadol is effective at treating acute and chronic pain conditions, its side effect profile includes mood changes and gastrointestinal symptoms which are less common with other opioids like hydrocodone. However, since it's classified as a schedule IV drug -- indicating a lower potential for abuse than Schedule II opioids like Vicodin -- it may be preferred for patients at risk of substance misuse.

On the other hand, while Vicodin has been shown to be highly effective at relieving acute postoperative or injury-related pain, it carries significant risks including dependency development and overdose when misused due to its opioid component. Therefore, caution should always be exercised when prescribing this medication particularly for patients with a history of substance abuse or dependence.

In conclusion, choosing between Ultram vs Vicodin often depends on multiple factors such as type and severity of the patient's pain condition as well as individual risk factors.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Ultram typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Ultram (tramadol) range from 50-100 mg as needed for pain every four to six hours, not to exceed 400 mg/day. For chronic pain, doctors often prescribe a low dose at first, usually after surgery. The dosage may then be increased by your doctor every three days. However, the maximum dosage should not exceed 400mg per day in most adults. For Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen), the most common dosage is 1 or 2 tablets every four to six hours as needed for pain, with the daily dose not exceeding eight tablets. As both medications have potential risks and side effects including addiction, their use must be closely monitored by a healthcare provider.

At what dose is Vicodin typically prescribed?

Vicodin treatment typically begins at a dosage of 5-10 mg every four to six hours, depending on the severity of pain and your individual health status. If necessary, the dose can be increased under close medical supervision. However, it is important not to exceed a maximum daily dose of 60 mg (6 doses), due to its potential for liver toxicity from the acetaminophen component in Vicodin. This medication should always be taken as directed by your healthcare provider and you are advised not to increase or alter your dosage without prior consultation with them. A lack of response or inadequate pain relief after several days may indicate a need for adjustments in dosing or consideration of alternative treatments.

What are the most common side effects for Ultram?

Common side effects of Ultram (tramadol) include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • Headache
  • Somnolence (drowsiness/sleepiness)
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Agitation and nervousness
  • Mood changes such as anxiety, mood swings, euphoria or dysphoria
  • Indigestion or heartburn

Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen), on the other hand, may cause:

-Nausea and vomiting -Somnolence (drowsiness/sleepiness) -Lightheadedness or feeling faint
-Dizziness -Constricted pupils -Anxiety and fear
-Mood changes like agitation or mood swings
-A dry throat/mouth
-Decreased libido
-Rash on the skin

Both drugs can potentially lead to dependency due to their opioid components. It's important to use these medications under a doctor's supervision.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Ultram?

On rare occasions, Ultram can cause serious side effects which may include:

  • Hallucinations or disorientation
  • Severe allergic reactions: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Skin rash with blistering and peeling
  • Visual disturbances such as blurred vision or seeing halos around lights
  • Irregular heartbeats causing discomfort in your chest, shortness of breath and sudden dizziness (feeling like you might pass out)
  • Low cortisol levels - nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue; worsening tiredness or weakness -Severe nervous system reaction - muscle stiffness/twitching/weakness/uncoordination -Serotonin syndrome: agitation/delirium/hallucination/heart palpitations/high body temperature/excessive sweating/shivering/severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea

If you experience any of these symptoms while taking Ultram it is important that you seek immediate medical attention. It's also crucial to remember that misuse of this medication can result in addiction and overdose which could lead to death.

What are the most common side effects for Vicodin?

The use of Vicodin can lead to some possible side effects such as:

  • Dry mouth and throat discomfort
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
  • Blurred vision occasionally
  • Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, and constipation are common gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Some users may experience tremors, sweating excessively or feelings of anxiety and nervousness
  • A fast heartbeat is a potential cardiac effect
  • Mental confusion, agitation behavior or hostile mood swings could occur due to its impact on the central nervous system
  • Skin rash in certain individuals
  • Unexplained weight loss over time
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Headache episodes followed by dizziness are also reported as common neurological effects. -Muscle soreness or joint pain after long-term usage.

It's crucial for patients considering Vicodin to discuss these potential issues with their healthcare provider before starting treatment.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Vicodin?

While Vicodin is a commonly prescribed medication for pain management, it can have serious adverse effects in some cases. The following symptoms may indicate severe reactions to this drug:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives, difficulty breathing or swallowing, swelling of the face or throat
  • Severe mood swings and changes in behavior, including feelings of extreme happiness or sadness
  • Confusion and hallucinations
  • Fainting spells or feeling lightheaded upon standing up too quickly
  • Seizures (convulsions)
  • Slow heart rate or weak pulse; shallow breathing
  • Nausea, upper stomach pain; itching; loss of appetite; dark urine; clay-colored stools; jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

If you experience any of these side effects while taking Vicodin, seek medical attention immediately. These are not common but could signal a serious problem that requires immediate treatment.

Contraindications for Ultram and Vicodin?

Both Ultram (tramadol) and Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen), like all opioid analgesics, can escalate symptoms of respiratory depression in some people. If you notice your breathing becoming slower or more shallow, or if you experience severe drowsiness or inability to stay awake, seek immediate medical attention.

You should not take either Ultram or Vicodin if you are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) currently or have taken them within the last 14 days. These include certain antidepressants and medications for Parkinson’s disease. Always inform your healthcare provider about any medications you are currently taking; MAOIs will require approximately two weeks to clear from the system to prevent dangerous interactions with Ultram and Vicodin.

How much do Ultram and Vicodin cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The cost for 60 tablets of Ultram (50 mg) averages around $220, which translates to approximately $3.5–7/day depending on your dose.
  • The price for 30 tablets of Vicodin (5/300 mg) is about $130, working out to roughly $4.33/day.

Thus, if you are in the higher dosage range for Ultram (i.e.,100 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Vicodin can be less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. However, please bear in mind that cost should not be the primary consideration when determining which drug is right for you.

For the generic versions of Ultram (tramadol) and Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen), costs are significantly lower:

  • Tramadol can be found in packs ranging from 20 to several hundred tablets with prices starting as low as $0.10 per tablet depending on quantity purchased and pharmacy pricing.
  • Hydrocodone/acetaminophen comes in similar quantities with prices slightly higher than tramadol but still much cheaper than their branded counterparts - typically under a dollar per tablet.

Please note that while both tramadol and hydrocodone provide relief from moderate-severe pain, they have different side effects profiles and potential risks associated with long-term use or misuse. Always consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regimen.

Popularity of Ultram and Vicodin

Tramadol, commonly known by its brand name Ultram, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 21.2 million people in the US in 2020. Tramadol accounted for just over 15% of opioid prescriptions in the US. However, it appears to be a unique medication within the broad class of opioids due to its dual mechanism action as an opioid and monoamine uptake inhibitor. The use of tramadol has been generally increasing since 2013.

Hydrocodone/acetaminophen combination, including brand versions such as Vicodin, was prescribed to approximately 14 million people in the USA in 2020. In the US, this hydrocodone combination accounts for just under 25% of opioid prescriptions and roughly around 12% of overall painkiller prescriptions. Despite being one of the most commonly used medications for moderate-to-severe pain relief over decades pasts, Vicodin's prevalence has seen a steady decline over recent years due primarily to increased awareness and monitoring surrounding opioid addiction risk.


Both Ultram (tramadol) and Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen) have long-standing records of usage in patients with moderate to severe pain, and are backed by numerous clinical studies indicating that they are more effective than placebo treatments. In some cases, the drugs may be combined but this is subject to careful consideration by a physician as they can also interact harmfully with one another. Due to their different mechanisms of action — with Ultram primarily inhibiting serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake while weakly binding mu-opioid receptors, and Vicodin acting mainly on opioid receptors — they tend to be prescribed under different circumstances.

Vicodin is typically considered a first-line treatment for acute postoperative pain or injury-related pain, whereas Ultram might usually be considered an alternative when other opioids cannot be used or in chronic conditions due to its lower risk profile regarding substance abuse. Both drugs come in generic form which represents significant cost savings especially for patients who must pay out of pocket.

The side effect profiles vary between the two drugs; both medications carry risks such as nausea, constipation, dizziness, sedation among others. However, given its opioid nature Vicodin carries higher risks including potential for dependency if misused or taken over extended periods without medical oversight. For both drugs it's important that patients closely monitor their physical responses during treatment initiation or dosage adjustments; seeking immediate medical help should any worrisome symptoms occur.