Vicodin is used for treating moderate to moderately severe pain, typically due to an injury, surgery, or dental procedure. On occasion, it may be prescribed for other uses. Vicodin is sometimes used "off-label" to treat coughing or insomnia. It can also be used to treat chronic pain, migraines, or other types of recurring, long-term conditions that cause pain. Vicodin uses are not approved for children.
What Is Vicodin Used For?Vicodin® (hydrocodone/APAP) is a prescription medication approved to treat moderate to moderately severe pain.
Vicodin is commonly used to treat short-term pain due to an injury, surgery, or dental procedure. Occasionally, it is used to treat chronic pain, migraines, or other types of recurring, long-term conditions that cause pain. It is often used (or rather, abused) inappropriately, as it contains a narcotic medication (see Vicodin Abuse).
How Does Vicodin Work?Vicodin contains two different medications: hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic, opioid pain reliever. It acts similarly to codeine. Hydrocodone is effective at decreasing pain and relieving coughing, but also causes drowsiness, mood changes, and mental "clouding." In the United States, hydrocodone is only available in combination medications; it is not available alone.
Acetaminophen is pain reliever and fever reducer commonly found in non-prescription medications, such as Tylenol®. Combining hydrocodone with acetaminophen helps improve the effectiveness of acetaminophen at relieving pain and may limit the abuse potential of hydrocodone (the maximum dose of Vicodin is limited by the acetaminophen content). Make sure to carefully monitor your acetaminophen intake (including acetaminophen from other sources) while taking Vicodin in order to avoid toxicity (see Vicodin Drug Interactions and Vicodin Dosage for more information).