What is Muscle Relaxants and What is the Main Side Effect of Muscle Relaxants ?

Muscle relaxers or muscle relaxants are medications used to treat acute muscle pain and discomfort caused by muscle spasms. Muscle spasms are involuntary contractions that cause excessive strain in muscles and are often associated with conditions such as lower back pain and neck pain.

Medications used as muscle relaxers can differ in their chemical structures and the way they work in the brain. In general, muscle relaxers act as central nervous system depressants and cause a sedative effect or prevent your nerves from sending pain signals to your brain. The onset of action is rapid and effects typically last from 4-6 hours.

Muscle Relaxants for Muscle Spasms

Muscle spasms are painful and may restrict mobility, which can limit your ability to perform even basic activities. Painful, tight muscles can also interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.

Muscle relaxants may help reduce pain, and improve movement and range of motion, but your doctor will likely recommend that you first try acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). In some cases, these over-the-counter medications will be enough to help alleviate your pain.

If your muscle pain persists, your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant in addition to your pain medication. Below are common muscle relaxants (the generic names are listed first, with a brand name example in parentheses):

  • Baclofen (Lioresal)
  • Carisoprodol (Soma)
  • Cyclobenzaprine (Amrix)
  • Metaxalone (Skelaxin)
  • Methocarbamol (Robaxin)

When You Might Need a Muscle Relaxer

Your doctor might first suggest you try an over-the-counter medicine like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to treat your pain. But if those don’t work, or you can’t take them because you have another issue like liver problems or ulcers, you may need to try a muscle relaxant.

Muscle relaxants are ideally prescribed for acute rather than chronic pain. They may be an option if pain is preventing you from getting enough sleep. Because muscle relaxants cause drowsiness, they can help you get rest when you take them at night.

Some of the common side effects of muscle relaxers include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Nervousness
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased blood pressure

The most commonly prescribed muscle relaxers are carisoprodol (Soma) and cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril). According to data from IMS Health, there were 4.2 million prescriptions of Soma and 28.4 million prescriptions of Flexeril dispensed in the United States in 2017.

Muscle Relaxant List
Muscle Relaxant List

What Are Side Effects of Flexeril?

Common side effects of Flexeril include:

  • dry mouth or throat
  • headache
  • blurred vision
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • gas, or
  • muscle weakness.

Dosage for Flexeril –  For most patients, the recommended dose of Flexeril is 5 mg three times a day.

You shouldn’t drink alcohol while taking muscle relaxants. These medications make it hard to think and function normally, even if you take a low dose, so combining them with alcohol can increase your risk of an accident.

You also shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery while taking muscle relaxants. Some muscle relaxers start working within 30 minutes of taking them, and the effects can last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours

Muscle Relaxant Abuse

Muscle relaxers have a potential for abuse and addiction. Prolonged use can lead to increased tolerance and physical dependence, especially with Soma.3 For this reason, muscle relaxers are intended as a short-term treatment not to be prescribed for more than 2-3 weeks.

Unfortunately, many individuals take muscle relaxers alone or in combination with other illicit drugs for nonmedical reasons, such as to produce or enhance feelings of euphoria and dissociation. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Soma is one of the most commonly diverted drugs in the United States.2 Evidence also indicates prevalent misuse of Flexeril. In 2010 there were over 12,000 emergency room visits associated with Flexeril, and in 2016 over 10,000 calls to the Poison Control Centers had involved Flexeril.1

Muscle relaxer abuse can lead to serious dangers such as an increased risk of overdose, which can result in:

  • stupor
  • hallucinations
  • seizures
  • shock
  • respiratory depression
  • cardiac arrest
  • coma
  • death

Alcohol and Muscle Relaxers

Like muscle relaxers, alcohol also depresses the central nervous system. When alcohol is consumed with muscle relaxers the side effects are exacerbated. This can be very dangerous, leading to symptoms like:

  • Blurred vision
  • Urine retention
  • Extreme dizziness
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Memory problems
  • Liver damage
  • Increased risk of overdose

It is recommended to not drive or operate heavy machinery when under the influence of muscle relaxers. It is especially important to avoid drinking, as combining muscle relaxers with alcohol greatly increases your risk of an accident.

Withdrawal and Treatment

Regular use of muscle relaxers causes the brain to become used to its effects. If you attempt to suddenly stop using muscle relaxers you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the specific drug and how long you have been using it, there are various treatment options available to help you overcome your addiction.

For many people, Flexeril withdrawal causes mild symptoms such as nausea, headache, drowsiness, malaise, and discomfort. Symptoms tend to peak about 2-4 days after you last took the Flexeril, although in some people withdrawal symptoms may last for up to 1-2 weeks. For many people Flexeril detox can be done at home. However, if Flexeril addiction is accompanied by alcohol or opioid abuse the withdrawal symptoms from these other substances can be severe. In these situations, it may be best to undergo professional medical detox.

Soma withdrawal is usually more severe and can include symptoms like hallucinations and seizures. For your safety and comfort, it is often best to find an inpatient treatment program that includes a detox program to manage withdrawal symptoms. After detox patients can transition into the actual treatment phase of the program. Some people may not require a supervised detox program and will be able to undergo treatment on an outpatient basis.

Most inpatient and outpatient rehab programs include cognitive behavioral therapy that will help you learn the coping skills needed for long-term recovery.

Which Muscle Relaxants Are Best for Neck and Back Pain?

Stiffness and soreness in your neck and back can be difficult to deal with, especially when sleeping. Maybe you have a new injury, or you’ve aggravated an old one. Either way, if you feel this kind of pain at night, you may not sleep well. And then you may have more pain when you wake up.

In some cases, muscle relaxants can help relieve this pain and get you through these tough days. They do exactly what their name says: relax muscles. Reducing muscle tightness may improve new (acute) neck and back pain, especially when used at night.

But you need a prescription for muscle relaxers. And the evidence is mixed regarding how well they workTreatment guidelines don’t even agree on whether they should be prescribed.

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers work better for neck and back pain than muscle relaxants alone. Examples of these are acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Plus, there are effective treatments that don’t involve any medication at all, like home exercises, physical therapy, and/or posture training. That said, some people may benefit from taking an NSAID and a muscle relaxer together, especially at night.

Muscle relaxers work in different ways. They act on the muscles, nerves, or central nervous system. There isn’t enough evidence to suggest one muscle relaxer is better than another. So let’s look at nine popular muscle relaxants, including how well they work and their side effects.

1. Methocarbamol

Methocarbamol (Robaxin) is a well-studied medication that treats back pain. Compared to other options, it’s inexpensive and less likely to make you sleepy (sedated).

Taken as needed, 1,500 mg every 6 to 8 hours is a cheap and well-tolerated option for people who have new neck and back pain. It’s less sedating than other options, like cyclobenzaprine and carisoprodol. However, it may be less effective. In one study, almost 20% of those taking it stopped because it wasn’t helping their pain go away.

2. Cyclobenzaprine

Cyclobenzaprine is a reasonable first choice because it’s a cheap generic. But it has more potential for side effects, like sedation. This limits how you can use it during the day. Cyclobenzaprine may also cause dry mouth, especially in older adults. If this is a concern, consider a better non-sedating option.

At the standard dose of 10 mg to 30 mg a day, cyclobenzaprine (formerly branded as Flexeril) will make you sleepy. If you use it during the day, you’ll want to break your 10 mg tab in half and take 5 mg to lessen the drowsiness. Interestingly, one study found that a lower dose (15 mg per day) worked just as well as a higher dose (30 mg per day). There may not be any benefit when you take it alongside an NSAID like naproxen.

3. Carisoprodol

Carisoprodol (Soma) is a Schedule 4 drug (similar to benzodiazepines Ativan, Valium, and Xanax). Because of this, it has the potential for misuse. For this reason, you should not use it if you have a history of substance use.

Many believe that carisoprodol should be phased out as a muscle relaxant in favor of much better options. If prescribed, you should only use it for short periods of 2 to 3 weeks. Scientists don’t know how effective it is when taken for longer periods. Carisoprodol may cause drowsiness and dizziness. People over age 65 should not use it.

4. Metaxalone

Taken as 800 mg tablets 3 to 4 times a day, metaxalone (Skelaxin) has the fewest reported side effects. It’s also the least likely of the muscle relaxants to make you sleepy. It may work better for chronic lower back pain that is flaring up, rather than for pain that is new.

Metaxalone is a generic alternative for the brand medication Skelaxin, but it still costs more than most others. Insurance companies often don’t cover it because there are cheaper alternatives. But it works as well as cyclobenzaprine and carisoprodol (more info on those above) with fewer side effects and less sedation. So, paying cash may be worth it.

5. Tizanidine

Tizanidine (Zanaflex) is often used for spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy. Spasticity is where the muscles contract continuously, which leads to tightness and stiffness. The FDA has not approved tizanidine to treat neck or back pain.

For multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy, tizanidine tends to have fewer side effects than Baclofen. But either medication may not make much difference in new low back pain when compared with ibuprofen alone. Tizanidine is not a first choice for new neck or back muscle pain.

6. Baclofen

Similar to tizanidine, Baclofen (Gablofen, Lioresal) is primarily used for spasticity in people who have multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries. Up to 20% of people taking it have drowsiness.  It’s not a first choice: There are better options for neck and back muscle pain. The FDA has not approved baclofen to treat neck or back pain.

7. Oxazepam and diazepam

Benzodiazepine medications like oxazepam (Serax, Zaxopam) and diazepam (Valium) are anti-anxiety medications. They are sometimes prescribed as muscle relaxants. But these really aren’t recommended because they don’t work well, are sedating, and can be habit-forming.

Plus, the FDA has not approved benzodiazepines for neck or back pain. Avoid these medications for neck and back muscle pain. There are much better options.

8. Chlorzoxazone

Chlorzoxazone (Lorzone) is not well studied for new low back and neck pain in adults. It wasn’t found to be effective for pain after spine surgery. Chlorzoxazone has also been reported as a rare cause of acute liver toxicity. Don’t choose this medication until you’ve exhausted all other options.

9. Orphenadrine

For neck and back pain in adults, the first four medications on this list work better than orphenadrine (Norflex), so save this as another last resort in the event the others don’t work.

Do muscle relaxers make you sleepy?

Yes, they can make you sleepy. In fact, sedation is one of the most common side effects reported. Dizziness and drowsiness are also commonly reported. That’s why they usually have a warning on the label that instructs you to avoid certain things while taking them, such as driving, caring for children, and operating heavy machinery.

Muscle relaxers can also cause other side effects and interact with other medications. It’s important to let your healthcare provider know about your medical history and which medications and supplements you’re taking.

List of Common Muscle Relaxers

Muscle relaxers are used in addition to rest, physical therapy, and other measures to relieve discomfort. They are typically prescribed for short-term use to treat acute, painful musculoskeletal conditions. Muscle relaxers are occasionally prescribed for chronic pain (pain lasting longer than 3 months).

Muscle Relaxant List
Muscle Relaxant List

Muscle relaxers are not a class of drugs—meaning they do not all have the same chemical structure or work the same way in the brain. Rather, the term muscle relaxer is used to describe a group of drugs that act as central nervous system depressants and have sedative and musculoskeletal relaxant properties.

Muscle relaxers may be prescribed to treat back pain:

  • Early in the course of back pain, on a short-term basis, to relieve pain associated with muscle spasms
  • When back pain causes insomnia (for their sedative effect)

Muscle relaxers are also prescribed for other conditions such as fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and seizure disorders.

There are several types of muscle relaxer medications commonly used to treat back pain.

Common Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxers are usually prescribed to treat back pain in conjunction with rest and physical therapy. Common muscle relaxants include:

  • Baclofen. Muscle tightness and muscle spasms, including those related to spine injuries, may be eased with baclofen. The medication may be helpful in treating multiple sclerosis and stabbing nerve pain. It is available as a tablet and can be taken by children as young as 12 years old. Some common side effects could include nausea and vomiting, confusion, drowsiness, headache, or muscle weakness. Baclofen is rated C in the FDA’s A through X pregnancy safety ranking for medications, with A being the safest. The C category means that the medication should only be used if the benefits outweigh the risks.
  • Benzodiazepines. In addition to treating anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, benzodiazepines can also treat muscle spasms and skeletal pain. Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and temazepam (Restoril), are typically only intended for short-term use. This limitation is due to their habit-forming potential and because they alter sleep cycles, leading to sleep difficulties once the drug is stopped. Benzodiazepines are sold as tablets, liquid, injections, and rectal gels. People who have myasthenia gravis, severe liver disease, serious breathing troubles, or some forms of glaucoma, should avoid taking diazepam. All benzodiazepines are rated D by the FDA for safety during pregnancy and are not recommended for women who are pregnant.
  • Carisoprodol (Soma). Carisoprodol relaxes muscles and eases pain and stiffness caused by acute bone and muscle problems, often caused by an injury. It is taken by mouth in tablet form and is also available in combination with aspirin or aspirin and codeine. Carisoprodol can be habit-forming, particularly if used in conjunction with alcohol or other drugs that have a sedative effect, including opioids (such as codeine). Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, and headache. People with a history of blood disorders, kidney or liver disease, and seizures may need to avoid Carisoprodol. It is rated C in the FDA’s pregnancy safety ranking for medications.
  • Chlorzoxazone (Lorzone). Chlorzoxazone is used for the relief of discomfort from acute, painful, musculoskeletal conditions. Chlorzoxazone is available as a tablet. Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea. Chlorzoxazone is not recommended for people with liver disease. It has not been rated by the FDA for safety during pregnancy.
  • Cyclobenzaprine (Amrix, Fexmid, FlexePax Kit, FusePaq Tabradol). Cyclobenzaprine eases stiffness and pain from muscle cramps, also called muscle spasms. It is available as a tablet and extended-release capsule. Cyclobenzaprine itself is not intended for long-term use (more than 2 to 3 weeks). Cyclobenzaprine ( Generic Flexeril )Common side effects include blurred vision, dizziness or drowsiness, and dry mouth. It is not advised for those with an overactive thyroid, heart problems, or liver disease. Cyclobenzaprine is rated B by the FDA for safety during pregnancy, making it the safest muscle relaxant to use while pregnant.
  • Dantrolene (Dantrium). Dantrolene helps control chronic spasticity related to spinal injuries. It is also used for conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy. Dantrolene is taken as a capsule or intravenous powder for injection. Drowsiness and sensitivity to light are common side effects. It can cause severe liver problems, and should not be taken by people with active liver disease. The FDA has given dantrolene a C rating for safety in pregnancy.
  • Metaxalone (Skelaxin, Metaxall, and Metaxall CP, Lorvatus PharmaPak). Metaxalone targets pain and muscle spasms from sprains, strains, and muscle injuries. It is available as a tablet or injection. Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Metaxalone is generally not recommended for people with a known tendency to become anemic, and who have kidney or liver disease. Metaxalone may affect blood sugar tests for people with diabetes. The FDA has not rated metaxalone for safety during pregnancy.
  • Methocarbamol (Robaxin, Robaxin-750). Methocarbamol eases acute muscle and bone pain. It can be taken as a tablet or by injection.Methocarbamol (Generic Robaxin) Common side effects include dizziness, headache, nausea, flushing, and blurred vision. Methocarbamol is generally not recommended to people with renal disease or failure, or a history of allergic reaction to the medication. The FDA has given methocarbamol a C rating for safety during pregnancy.
  • Orphenadrine. Orphenadrine is a medication used to relieve pain and stiffness caused by muscle injuries. It is available as an extended-release tablet. Common side effects include dry mouth, lightheadedness, difficult urination, heartburn, nausea and vomiting. It is generally not recommended to people with previous sensitivities to the ingredients, myasthenia gravis, those with glaucoma or certain types of ulcers. The FDA has given orphenadrine a C rating for safety during pregnancy.
  • Tizanidine (Comfort Pac with Tizanidine, Zanaflex). Tizanidine is used to treat muscle spasms caused by spinal cord injuries and other conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Tizanidine is available in tablet and capsule form and absorbs differently depending on whether it is taken on an empty stomach or with food. Zanaflex (Generic Tizanidine)
  • Common side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, constipation and tiredness. It should not be used by people taking fluvoxamine or ciprofloxacin or those who have liver disease. Tizanidine is rated in the C category for safety during pregnancy.

Sometimes the first muscle relaxers a doctor prescribes does not work as well as expected. It may be necessary to try an alternative if the initial prescription is not effective. Many drugs interact with muscle relaxers and a person should keep their health care provider informed of all prescription and non-prescription medications he or she is taking.

There is very little research regarding which muscle relaxers are most effective, so the choice of which medication—or whether to use one at all—is based on factors such as a person’s reaction to the medication and personal preferences, potential for abuse, possible drug interactions, and adverse side effects.

Medication is just one part of pain relief. These medications are intended to be one element, usually on a short-term basis, of an overall recovery strategy that includes rest, stretching, physical therapy, and other exercise.

About Soma ( Carisoprodol )

Carisoprodol, sold under the brand name Soma among others, is a medication used for musculoskeletal pain.  Use is only approved for up to three weeks.  Effects generally begin within half an hour and last for up to six hours. It is taken by mouth.

Common side effects include headache, dizziness, and sleepiness. Serious side effect may include addiction, allergic reactions, and seizures. In people with a sulfa allergy certain formulations may result in problems. Safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding is not clear. How it works is not clear. Some of its effects are believed to occur following being converted into meprobamate.

Carisoprodol is meant to be used along with rest, physical therapy and other measure to relax muscles after strains, sprains and muscle injuries. It comes in tablet format and is taken by the mouth three times a day and before bed.

Carisoprodol was approved for medical use in the United States in 1959. Its approval in Europe was withdrawn in 2008.  It is available as a generic medication. In the United States the wholesale cost is less than US$0.10 per dose.  In 2017, it was the 255th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than one million prescriptions. In the United States, it is a Schedule IV controlled substance.

Soma ( Carisoprodol ) is a controlled prescription and we can not sell it online. It is also illegal for you to buy Soma ( Carisoprodol ) online.

 

Side Effects Associated with Muscle Relaxers

Side effects of muscle relaxers include:

  • Sleepiness or grogginess
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Nausea

More serious side effects include:

  • Light-headedness or fainting
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Urinary retention

Any serious side effects should be reported to a doctor immediately.

Warnings for prescription muscle relaxants

Muscle relaxants such as carisoprodol and diazepam can be habit forming. Be sure to take your medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

Muscle relaxants can also cause withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures or hallucinations (sensing things that aren’t real). Do not suddenly stop taking your medication, especially if you’ve been taking it for a long time.

Also, muscle relaxants depress your central nervous system (CNS), making it hard to pay attention or stay awake. While taking a muscle relaxant, avoid activities that require mental alertness or coordination, such as driving or using heavy machinery.

You should not take muscle relaxants with:

  • alcohol
  • CNS depressant drugs, such as opioids or psychotropics
  • sleeping medications
  • herbal supplements such as St. John’s wort

Talk to your doctor about how you can safely use muscle relaxants if you:

  • are older than 65 years
  • have a mental health problem or brain disorder
  • have liver problems

Off-label medications for spasticity

Doctors can use certain medications to treat spasticity even when the drugs are not approved for that purpose by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA). This is called off-label drug use. The following drugs are not actually muscle relaxants, but they can still help relieve symptoms of spasticity.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are sedatives that can help relax muscles. They work by increasing the effects of certain neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that relay messages between your brain cells.

Examples of benzodiazepines include:

  • clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • lorazepam (Ativan)
  • alprazolam (Xanax)

Side effects of benzodiazepines can include drowsiness and problems with balance and memory. These drugs can also be habit forming.

Clonidine

Clonidine (Kapvay) is thought to work by preventing your nerves from sending pain signals to your brain or by causing a sedative effect.

Clonidine should not be used with other muscle relaxants. Taking it with similar drugs increases your risk of side effects. For instance, taking clonidine with tizanidine can cause very low blood pressure.

Clonidine is available in brand-name and generic versions.

Gabapentin

Gabapentin (Neurontin) is an anticonvulsant drug typically used to relieve seizures. It’s not fully known how gabapentin works to relieve muscle spasticity.  Gabapentin is available in brand-name and generic versions.

Over-the-counter options for muscle spasms

OTC treatment is recommended as first-line therapy for muscle spasms caused by conditions such as acute lower back pain or tension headache. This means you should try OTC treatments before prescription medications.

OTC treatment options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, or a combination of both. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you choose an OTC treatment.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs work by blocking your body from making certain substances that cause inflammation and pain. NSAIDs are available in generic and brand-name versions. They’re typically sold over the counter. Stronger versions are available by prescription.

NSAIDs come as oral tablets, capsules, or suspensions. They also come as chewable tablets for children. Side effects of these drugs can include upset stomach and dizziness.

Examples of NSAIDs include:

  • ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • naproxen (Aleve)

Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is thought to work by blocking your body from making certain substances that cause pain. Acetaminophen is available in generic and brand-name versions. It comes as immediate-release and extended release oral tablets and capsules, orally disintegrating tablets, chewable tablets, and oral solutions.

The more common side effects of acetaminophen can include nausea and upset stomach.

Can cannabis be used to treat muscle spasticity or spasm?

Yes, in some cases.

Cannabis, more commonly known as marijuana, is legal in certain states for medicinal uses. Muscle spasm is one of the health conditions that cannabis is used to treat. It helps relieve muscle spasms by reducing pain and inflammation.

Cannabis has also been used to treat muscle spasticity due to multiple sclerosis (MS). In many research trialsTrusted Source, cannabis has been shown to be effective alone and in combination with other treatments for reducing muscle spasticity symptoms.   However, there’s limited information available on the use of cannabis for muscle spasticity that’s not associated with MS.

If you’re being treated for MS and still have muscle spasms or spasticity, adding cannabis may help. Talk to your doctor about whether it’s a good option for you.

You should keep certain factors in mind. The more common side effects of cannabis include dizziness, vomiting, urinary tract infections, and a relapse of MS. Also, limited information is available about drug interactions and other usage warnings.

Risks Associated with Muscle Relaxers

Muscle relaxers are a group of drugs that have a sedative effect on the body. They work through the brain, rather than directly on the muscles. Muscle relaxants are generally used for a few days and up to 3 weeks, but are sometimes prescribed for chronic back pain or neck pain.

To minimize risk, the doctor should be informed of any history of seizures, liver disease, and any other medical conditions or concerns. Women should inform their doctors if they are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding.

  • Sleepiness. Because muscle relaxers are total body relaxants, they typically induce grogginess or sleepiness. As a result, it is not safe to drive or make important decisions while taking muscle relaxers. Muscle relaxers are often suggested for evening use due to their sedative effect.
  • Interactions with alcohol. Drinking alcohol can be especially dangerous when taking muscle relaxers. The sedative effect of the medication is intensified with alcohol use, and combining the two can be fatal.See Alcohol Avoidance
  • Allergic reactions. No medication should be taken if the person has had an allergic reaction to it in the past, even if the reaction seemed mild. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include swelling in the throat or extremities, trouble breathing, hives, and chest tightness.
  • Potential for abuse. Muscle relaxers have a risk of misuse and abuse. Some muscle relaxers, such as cyclobenzaprine, can be habit-forming on their own. Others may be taken in conjunction with other drugs, such as opioids, to create a high, and are therefore more likely to be abused.See Opioids for Back Pain: Potential for Abuse, Assessment Tools, and Addiction Treatment
  • Tapering off. Stopping a muscle relaxer abruptly can be harmful. Instead, the doctor will prescribe a gradual reduction in dosage.

Concern About Overuse of Muscle Relaxants

The use of muscle relaxers is controversial in the medical community. The growing use of these medications has drawn concern about overuse, adverse side effects, and limited evidence of their effectiveness—especially when used on an ongoing basis for a chronic condition.

Research is mixed on muscle relaxers. A number of research studies and analyses have found muscle relaxants to be more helpful than a placebo in easing symptoms of nonspecific acute low back pain in the short term.1,2 Other research, however, found that people visiting an emergency room for back pain received no additional benefit from taking muscle relaxers.3

What is the best muscle relaxer?

It’s difficult to declare one muscle relaxant better than all others because each type has its own advantages and uses. In general, pain relief treatments fall into one of three categories: over-the-counter (OTC), prescription, and natural. Determining the best muscle relaxer depends entirely on your specific condition and pain level. When in doubt, consult your healthcare provider.

Over-the-counter remedies: OTC pain relievers are often the first line of defense against pain, inflammation, and tension. They can work wonders for milder conditions like neck and lower back pain. Typically, your doctor might start you out on an OTC medication, and if that doesn’t provide the relief you need, he or she may write a prescription for something higher-grade.

Prescription drugs: For more chronic pain and conditions where OTC medications just won’t cut it, your doctor may prescribe something stronger. Because of their more serious side effects, prescription muscle relaxers are designed for short-term use, after which your doctor will transition to other drugs or treatments.

Natural remedies: For minor soreness and stress-related symptoms, the only treatment you need might be drawn straight from nature. Before rushing off to the doctor for an examination and potential prescription, you might be able to administer an effective plant-based therapy right from home.

What is the best over-the-counter (OTC) medicine for muscle pain?

These are the medications that you can find while perusing the aisles at your local pharmacy or convenience store. Most of them are household names, and it’s not uncommon to keep them on hand, stashed in a medicine cabinet, just in case. Even though OTC medications are easy to obtain, they’ll do the job for many aches and pains, and doctors often recommend them prior to prescribing stronger treatment options.

“OTC NSAIDS, like ibuprofen and naproxen, are a good first line agent to decrease inflammation surrounding an injury,” recommends Joanna Lewis, Pharm.D., creator of The Pharmacist’s Guide. They might not have the same potency of high-grade muscle relaxants, but they’re still effective and have very few side effects. If you roll your ankle at the gym or wake up with back pain, try one of these before asking your doctor for a prescription.

  1. Advil (ibuprofen): This is a staple of parents, doctors, and athletes alike. Ibuprofen is one of the most widely used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) available. As such, Advil doesn’t just remedy pain, but also inflammation as well. It’s highly versatile. Use it to treat low back pain, osteoarthritis, menstrual cramps, fever, headaches, migraines, sprains, and other minor injuries. Low doses are available over the counter, but a doctor can prescribe higher doses as well.
  2. Motrin IB (ibuprofen): Don’t be fooled by the different brand name. Motrin IB and Advil are the same drug. Therefore, they shouldn’t be taken together, as it could increase the risk of overdose.
  3. Aleve (naproxen): Another medicine cabinet staple, naproxen is similar to ibuprofen in many ways. It’s also an NSAID, so it works by reducing inflammation. It’s useful in treating muscle pain, headaches, migraines, osteoarthritis, fever, cramps, and minor injuries. The main difference between naproxen and ibuprofen is their dosing. You can take naproxen every eight to 12 hours and ibuprofen every four to six, so Aleve is slightly longer-lasting.
  4. Aspirin: One more NSAID for you. Aspirin treats many of the same conditions, relieving pain and reducing inflammation. However, daily doses of aspirin have been proven effective at reducing the risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks in some people. Ask your doctor before using for clot prevention. If you’re a candidate, you will likely take a “baby” aspirin, or 81 mg, coated tablet daily. Common brand names include Bayer or Ecotrin.
  5. Tylenol (acetaminophen): Unlike NSAIDs, acetaminophen focuses solely on treating pain—not inflammation. It’s used for muscle aches, headaches, migraines, back and neck pain, fevers, etc. However, if swelling and inflammation is the underlying cause of your pain, acetaminophen will not be nearly as effective as NSAIDs like those listed above. Acetaminophen’s wide range of uses and relatively few side effects make it the most popular OTC pain reliever worldwide.

 

Antispasmodic drugs are better for relieving muscle pain due to uncontrolled muscle contractions.

The following are muscle relaxants classified as antispasticity drugs:

  • baclofen (Lioresal)
  • dantrolene (Dantrium)

The following muscle relaxants are considered antispasmodic drugs:

  • carisoprodol (Soma)
  • chlorzoxazone (Parafon Forte)
  • cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril, Amrix)
  • methocarbamol (Robaxin)
  • orphenadrine (Norflex)

The following medications are classified as both antispasticity and antispasmodic medications:

  • diazepam (Valium)
  • tizanidine (Zanaflex)

For Muscle Pain Rely Only on Muscle Relaxers

What would you do if someone asks your advice to deal with their muscular pain? Well in all probability you will advise him or her to talk to their doctor. Most doctors recommend something like Tramadol pain medication to their patients whenever they complain of any physical pain. They may also offer a muscle relaxant to a person suffering from a muscular injury. These relaxants are specially designed to relax the muscles and help one get rid of the pain that ails them in various parts of their body.

The market has two major muscle relaxants that are prescribed by physicians all over the world. They are the Flexeril muscle relaxer and the Soma muscle relaxer. Both of these muscle relaxers have a dedicated fan base. Both medicines are preferred by physicians and patients alike throughout the world. The medicines are known to offer a prolonged effect on the various muscular pains.

The various muscular pains occurring in the different parts of the body are easily taken care of with these relaxants. The Soma muscle relaxer is very popular. It is the go to medicine for all sorts of physical pains. The patients often state that it works like magic. Well the relaxant has been developed to offer instant relief in all sorts of physical pains.

It has come up as the preferred muscle relaxant for a number of people. This is because of the low cost and easy availability. These two factors have contributed a lot to its popularity. In fact the cost factor goes even lower when one buys the medicine at discounted prices. On the other hand the Flexeril muscle relaxer has slowly but surely been gaining its own ground. It has come up as a popular alternative to the various costly muscle relaxants. In fact , the cost is meant to fit in all sorts of budgets without causing the patients to squirm.

The medicine also works instantly with long lasting effects. It simultaneously works on relaxing the muscle and dealing with the pain. The soma muscle relaxer and the Flexeril muscle relaxer are both very safe to consume. The fact is that the medicines are prescribed by the physicians around the globe. That itself is a big testament to their quality. One does not have to say too much as in their case as the effects speak for themselves.

What are Muscle relaxants?

Muscle relaxants (also called skeletal muscle relaxants) are a diverse group of medicines that have the ability to relax or reduce tension in muscle. Some (such as baclofen, methocarbamol, Cyclobenzaprine, and tizanidine, ) work in the brain or spinal cord to block over-excited neuronal (nerve) pathways. Others (such as dantrolene and botulinum toxin) act directly on muscle. Cannabis extract is thought to have a dual effect.

Muscle relaxants treat two main conditions: spasticity (stiff, rigid muscles) caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and stroke; or muscle spasms which are typically temporary and associated with conditions such as tension headache, low back pain, or fibromyalgia.

Only three muscle relaxants – baclofen, dantrolene, and tizanidine are FDA approved to treat spasticity; however, six (carisoprodol, chlorzoxazone, cyclobenzaprine, metaxalone, methocarbamol, and orphenadrine) are approved to treat muscle spasm.

Botulinum toxin is only approved to treat spasticity in certain muscle groups of the upper and lower limbs. Many other medications are also used to treat spasticity or muscle spasm although most are not approved for this indication.

Evidence supporting the effectiveness of skeletal muscle relaxants for muscle spasm is sparse; most trials are old and not of good quality. For this reason, skeletal muscle relaxants should only be used to treat muscle spasm if other treatments fail.

Warnings for Prescription Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants such as carisoprodol and diazepam can be habit forming. Be sure to take your medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

muscle relaxant
muscle relaxant

Muscle relaxants can be addictive for some people. Taking them without a prescription, or taking more than your doctor has recommended, can increase your chances of becoming addicted. So can using them over a long period of time.

Almost all cases of addiction and abuse are due to the drug carisoprodol (Soma), which is considered a schedule IV controlled substance. That’s because when the drug breaks down in your body, it produces a substance called meprobamate that acts like a tranquilizer. People who become addicted to carisoprodol sometimes abuse the drug because it makes them feel relaxed.

Other kinds of muscle relaxants may be addictive too. Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) has also been linked to misuse and abuse.

With prolonged use you can become physically dependent on some muscle relaxants. This means that without the medication, you can have withdrawl symptoms. You may have insomnia, vomiting or anxiety when you stop taking it.

Muscle relaxants can also cause withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures or hallucinations (sensing things that aren’t real). Do not suddenly stop taking your medication, especially if you’ve been taking it for a long time.

Also, muscle relaxants depress your central nervous system (CNS), making it hard to pay attention or stay awake. While taking a muscle relaxant, avoid activities that require mental alertness or coordination, such as driving or using heavy machinery.

You should not take muscle relaxants with:

  • alcohol
  • CNS depressant drugs, such as opioids or psychotropics
  • sleeping medications
  • herbal supplements such as St. John’s wort

Talk to your doctor about how you can safely use muscle relaxants if you:

  • are older than 65 years
  • have a mental health problem or brain disorder
  • have liver problems

No matter what kind of muscle relaxer you take, you’ll experience one or more side effects. Some muscle relaxants, however, can have potentially serious side effects, like liver damage. Your doctor will work with you to find the medication that makes the most sense for your situation.

The most common side effects include:

  • Tiredness, drowsiness, or sedation effect
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Depression
  • Decreased blood pressure
You shouldn’t drink alcohol while taking muscle relaxants. These medications make it hard to think and function normally, even if you take a low dose, so combining them with alcohol can increase your risk of an accident.You also shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery while taking muscle relaxants. Some muscle relaxers start working within 30 minutes of taking them, and the effects can last anywhere from 4 to 6 hours.