Muscle relaxants are considered as the most common and effective quick-fix solution for treating strains, sprains, muscle spasms, and other muscle injuries which can result in pain, stiffness, or any kind of discomfort. Also known as skeletal muscle relaxants, they work on the central nervous system and are available only under a physician's supervision. They don't heal the injuries but only help in relaxing the injured muscles and relieving the muscle pain.
Carisoprodol (Soma), chlorzoxazone (Parafon Forte DSC), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), metaxalone (Skelaxin), and methocarbamol (Robaxin) are some common examples. Most of these drugs are available in both tablet and injection forms and though useful, are not without their side effects. These medications are usually prescribed by the doctors early in the affected person's treatment regime and are intended to be used on a short-term basis only. Their long-term use can lead to health abuse and dependency, and so is discouraged by many doctors.
Some common health problems treated by muscle relaxants are:
- Mechanical low-back or neck pain
- Myofascial pain syndromes
- Nocturnal leg cramps
- Tension headaches
- Cerebral palsy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscle spasms following strokes
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
Conditions of Concern with Muscle Relaxants
Before using any muscle relaxant, it is necessary to consider the risks of taking it versus the benefits to the body. Therefore, the affected people should tell their physician if they have any history of allergies, especially due to any muscle relaxant or other substances like foods, preservatives, or dyes. Other conditions like blood disease due to allergies, epilepsy, diabetes, drug dependency, kidney disease, liver disease, etc., should also be disclosed to the physician.
The affected people with certain medical conditions or taking some medications may experience some complications due to these muscle relaxants. Therefore, in such cases, one should consult the doctor so that the doctor can change the dose of the medication or advise some necessary precaution measures. If one has a habit of consuming alcohol or any central nervous system depressants, make sure that the doctor is aware about it, as there can be chances that the side effects may increase due to these factors.
Though these relaxants do lessen the muscle pain, they are not effective for all kinds of pain and can cause a number of skeletal side effects in people ingesting them. Since, these relaxants work on the central nervous system, they may add to the effects of alcohol and other drugs that decelerate the central nervous system functionality. The person may experience drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, clumsiness or steadiness, and so should avoid activities like driving, operating machines, etc., that require alertness. The relaxant quinine sulfate and chlorzoxazone (Parafon Forte DSC) have been associated with rare but potentially severe heart problems and liver problems in some people respectively.
Methocarbamol and chlorzoxazone, common ingredients of many skeletal muscle relaxants, may cause harmless color changes in the person's urine. However, the urine color will return to normal once the medication is stopped. Here are some more their common but mild side effects:
- Dry mouth
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constipation and diarrhea
- Sleep disorders
- Trembling and weakness
- Muscle fatigue and fainting
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.