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. They are also called sedatives.

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

For acute low back pain, muscle relaxants improve pain, muscle tension, and mobility. But side effects are common.1

For chronic low back pain, muscle relaxants may relieve pain and lead to overall improvement, but side effects are common.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 relaxants should only be taken at bedtime and never before driving or operating machinery.

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

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

References

Citations

  1. McIntosh G, Hall H (2008). Low back pain (acute), search date May 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
  2. McIntosh G, Hall H (2008). Low back pain (chronic), search date May 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.

Last Updated: February 3, 2010

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics

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