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Muscle Relaxants

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
carisoprodol Soma
cyclobenzaprine Flexeril
diazepam Valium
metaxalone Skelaxin
methocarbamol Robaxin

How It Works

The muscle-relaxing effects of these medicines are most likely the result of their ability to depress the central nervous system.

Why It Is Used

Muscle relaxants can be helpful when severe muscle spasms follow the start of low back pain.

Muscle relaxants are not recommended for use by pregnant women, older adults, or people who have depression or a history of drug or alcohol addiction.

How Well It Works

Muscle relaxants may improve acute or chronic low back pain, muscle tension, and mobility. But side effects are common.1, 2

Side Effects

Possible side effects of muscle relaxants include:

  • Drowsiness or dizziness.
  • Possible addiction or dependence.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Urinary retention.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Muscle relaxant medicines work best when they are taken before bedtime. They should not be used by a person who needs to drive or operate machinery.

Use of muscle relaxants is restricted to short-term use to avoid addiction.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. McIntosh G, Hall H (2011). Low back pain (acute), search date December 2009. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
  2. Chou R (2010). Low back pain (chronic), search date April 2009. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last Revised December 14, 2011

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