I’m curious if anyone has experience, or better yet, scientific research regarding using Vicodin as a muscle relaxer to enhance recovery through massage. I have chronic dislocations of the shoulder joint (even when rolling over in bed) and my massage therapist has problems releasing myofacial tissue due to my tight muscles. She gave me half of a Vicodin last night and I haven’t been that relaxed in years. I felt like it was much easier for her to get to problem areas and hopefully massage out built up adhesions. I guess my question is, does the Vicodin cause any problems as far as the degradation of matrix or does it prevent the rebuilding process of damaged tissue. I’ve all but exhausted other therapeutic modalities at this point. Thanks in advance for any insight.

I’m no Doc but I think continued use will probably slow down recovery. Limited one time use as in your case is probably ok but you really should ask a Doc. Your massage therapist shouldn’t be handing you down perscription meds unless she has other qualifications that allow her to do so, she could easily loose her license that way and be sued. Generally I’d say that even using muscle relaxers for any amount of time will actually slow down recovery. In cases where they are needed they do allow recovery to begin as in a lower back injury since the muscle is so sensitive and badly damaged it is spasming too much to rest. Have you been to a sports medicine clinic?

Thanks for the advice RS.

Yeah, I’ve been to doctors, sports clinics (I’m a strength and conditioning coach amongst other things), chiropractors, ART therapists, etc. - it’s a continual battle and although some have helped, nothing has helped as much as rest and massage. But as I said, it’s hard for therapists to get where they need to because of tight muscles.

I am lucky that I have a few massage therapists who give me free massages. This girl was a friend, so I know that she doesn’t offer pain killers to other clients :o)

I would assume that it would somehow interfere with the rebuilding process of new tissue, but I also wondered if the that would be worth the sacrifice if it meant that it would allow scar tissue and other adhesions to be broken up. A catch 22 I’m sure, but I haven’t been able to find anything on Medline or any other sites I use for research as of yet.

Thanks again.


The biggest thing to watch for with vicodin is abuse and/or addiction. There are better ways to recover (cryotherapy, hot and cold baths, etc.). Vicodin rates right up there with oxycontin and percocet in terms of “mother’s little helper” type drugs.

Also, I can’t imagine how anyone doesn’t get lethargic and apathetic on that stuff. I’ve had to use it post surgery and I felt like Ozzy Osbourne tottering around the house looking for my damn slippers. My advice? Don’t do it.

Oh, one other thing…get caught without a script and you can get in pretty deep doo-doo.

Flexeril is pretty benign as a muscle relaxer. Vicodin, even at half strength, isn’t something I’d want to do long term. But isn’t relaxing the muscles just going to make the dislocations more likely? I remember something about Orel Hershiser having an unusually loose shoulder girdle that made him prone to dislocations and having the head of the humerous grind away into the socket. I think he had surgery to tighten the ligaments and that solved his problems.

Demo Dick and JimMcD: I appreciate your input. I’m not that worried about the addiction aspect since I’d only be taking a half dose and only at times of massage. I do agree that it would make dislocations more likely (I experience this first hand), but the idea of it loosening adhesions is what makes it attractive. I do contrast showers when I can and cryotherapy as well. And unless my house gets raided, I’m not too worried about getting caught with the half pill I currently have. :o)

I guess in the meanwhile I’ll go back to my regular rehab program: contrast showers, cryotherapy, stretching, rest, strengthening exercises, and cold beer.

My advice regarding legality was just in case. A lot of people don’t realize that you can in fact get in trouble for this, unlikely as it may be. Good luck.

mmmmmm… vicodin… :slight_smile:

I made sure I finished my prescription for vicodin and others before I stopped taking it… It is rather addictive.

Have you seen a doctor or a PT regarding your dislocation issues? I’m not trying to be insultive, but it seems that someone with more education and experience might be of value here.

Is the myofacial release so painful that vicodin cuts the pain, or does it just ‘relax’ you? I’ve found xanax works well for relaxation too. However it is also addictive.

Hey, not a doc here either, but have a bit of experience with those sorts of drugs. Vicodin is usually 5mg hydrocodone and 325 or 500 mg of tylenol. It’s usually used to treat pain and I’ve used it for that reason with much success, but not for muscle relaxing really although I’m sure it helps. However, as with all narcotics, especially opiates like this one, it’s primary pain-relief effect is achieved by suppressing the CNS and it’s ability to perceive pain. So, I can imagine it may impede recovery as far as the CNS is concerned, but then again, you’re taking such a small dosage that you’re unlikely to cause too much of a problem. Besides, if it works for you, go for it man! Oh, another prob with those drugs: you develop a tolerance rather quickly, and the half-tablet will no longer be sufficient, even with intermitent usage–such is the case with all opiates. For more info, check out for more info than you ever wanted to know :wink:

no REM

BrentM: I’ve seen just about every type of health professional under the sun. Although I couldn’t find any doctors in my town, one of the chiropractors came damn close!

The Vicodin would strictly relax the muscle tissue, allowing someone who knew what they were doing to dig a bit deeper into the problem. I’m not a huge guy, but it has always been hard for doctors and therapists to get to my SITS muscles or figure out what is wrong since I’m always in the excellent categories when they perform strength tests on me. I was hoping that relaxing the surrounding musculature (the muscles surrounding the glenohumeral joint in particular) would make it easier for them to “rub” out any problems they find. At this point I could write a book on shoulder rehab! My teres minor feels like there is a rock in there and sticks out about a quarter of an inch further than my other side. Shit, it seems like an inch of course when I look at it myself in the mirror, but I’m sure it’s me just being pissed off. I know that is the main problem since I’ve tested it myself.

Currently I’m doing the previously listed therapies and doing some self myofacial release with both a foam roller and a gymnastic ball (a hard air filled ball about 6 inches in diameter - not a stability ball that you do ab work or stabilization exercises with). I’m lucky in the fact that I recover quickly: dislocate one day, playing the next. The only problem is that I am never 100% AND as with most of us, it’s very difficult for me to play a game and not give 110% each time. I guess I’ll start practicing my cribbage game…

Are you looking for something to relax your mind or your muscles? We’re talking about two different things here. Vicodin is an opiate analgesic that blocks pain receptors. If you want a true muscle relaxant, there are a whole subset of drugs available by prescription that do this. As far as adhesions, maybe an anti-inflammatory? You’re getting this with the Vicodin as acetominophen, but the side effects of the Vicodin can be unpleasant. In addition to the addiction potential and the fact that opiates make some people goofy, they can cause constipation.

Thanks for the info and advice. Relaxing the mind would be nice, but it’s not an issue with regard to just blocking the pain. Yes, it hurts like a bitch when I get a massage, which inhibits my ability to relax my muscles, but I was looking for something that would strictly relax the muscles. The pain I can deal with, I’m just looking for a way to separate the two issues. I usually stay away from even NSAIDs since they can inhibit some of the rebuilding process, but this is obviously a change in direction for me. I know there is a general time period where NSAIDs are no longer really useful in a recovery pattern, but can’t think of when that is (i.e. after 1 week, 2 weeks, etc.) - does anyone know?

I’m sure the route to go would be to see a physician again, although my background in exercise physiology has always had my leaving their office wondering exactly what he/she studied when they were in med school. I’m sure like all professions some are better than others. Anyone else get that when go? Don’t get me wrong, I respect doctors for their knowledge, but I’ve never had a good experience with an HMO GP.

Great point about REM and blocking the CNS. The CNS issue was a major concern of mine and REM always is since I know I don’t get enough sleep - quality or not! Of course, I was just looking for yet another way to speed the recovery process. The only thing I haven’t tried is ultrasound - not sure if that would help or not. For now I’ll keep working on the recovery process and do my best not to re-injure myself before I heal.

Thanks again guys!