Muscle spasm is a term that is commonly used to describe involuntary muscle contraction. As we all know the muscles contract and relax during bodily movement. In a muscle spasm, the affected group of muscles contracts abnormally and does not relax back to its original shape. Doing any strenuous physical activity for prolonged periods of time depletes the energy sources of muscles.
Excessive use or overstretching of muscles and muscle injury are some of the most common causes that lead to uncontrolled contraction of muscles. As a result, the energy deprived muscles contract forcefully, leading to muscle spasms. Dehydration, spinal injury and medical problems like fibromyalgia can also trigger repetitive uncontrolled movement of muscles.
This is the standard treatment when it comes to treating discomfort linked with muscle spasms. As the name suggests, these medications relax the muscles that have developed abnormal contraction. It is a known fact that to initiate muscle movements, the brain has to send electrical signals through the nerve to the desired muscle group. Muscle relaxants induce sedation as well as interfere with these electrical signals to reduce involuntary muscle movement. That is why, muscle relaxants have been extremely effective in controlling pain and the stiffness associated with uncontrolled muscle movement. These medicines are not available over the counter and a doctor's prescription is necessary to purchase them.
They are mentioned below:
- Diazepam (Benzodiazepines derivative) (Valium)
- Methocarbamol (Robaxin)
- Baclofen (Lioresal)
- Metaxalone (Skelaxin)
- Tizanidine (Zanaflex)
- Carisoprodol (Soma)
- Reserpine (Harmonyl)
- Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)
- Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
Muscle relaxants like Skelaxin, Robaxin and Norflex does not allow the spinal cord (a bundle of nerves running from the base of the skull to the hip) to send the pain sensations to the brain. On the other hand, spinal injury that causes spasticity and subsequent episodes of muscle spasm is treated with Dantrium, Baclofen and Valium.
In case, patients do not find much relief from use of muscle relaxants, taking NSAIDS (Non Steroidal Anti-inflammatory medications) may help to manage pain. So in addition to muscle relaxers, going for pain medication (available over the counter) can be a good option to lessen muscle spasm discomfort. The ones that are commonly prescribed are given below. NSAIDS mentioned below do not just help in reducing the pain but also do an excellent job of decreasing the swelling in the affected area.
- Ibuprofen (Motrin)
- Naproxen (Aleva)
Narcotic pain killers also come in the list of muscle pain medication and their usage comes into picture only when muscle relaxants and over the counter painkillers seem to be in effective in alleviating discomfort of patients. Painkillers that contain narcotics are essentially formulated to block the pain. Severe episodes of spasmodic activity respond quite well to narcotic drugs. Narcotics provide strong pain relieving effects and can definitely be useful to ease pain and stop involuntary muscle movement. Some of the narcotic drugs for the treatment of muscle spasms are given below:
People suffering from muscle spasms can also benefit from the usage of botox injections. This may sound strange because botox are commonly used to give a face lift by reducing wrinkles and crow's feet. As aforementioned, muscles contract after they receive the nerve signal transmitted by the brain. However, when botox is injected at a particular site, it stops the nerve signals from reaching the muscle. As a result, the muscle do not contract and relaxes temporarily, which helps to reduce wrinkles. This same effect of botox is useful to relax abnormally contracted muscles. Unlike oral medications, botox relieves muscle pain immediately.
Well, as the medicines goes, there are some muscle relaxants side effects that the patients may suffer from. These medications are advised for short-term use only and need to be taken in the right dosage (as instructed by the doctor) to prevent any major side effects. Side effects from muscle relaxants like nausea, heartburn, wheezing and dizziness are reported by many patients. Along with these medicines you have the option of taking natural muscle relaxants to get some relief.
While taking these medications there are some precautions to be taken. The sedative effect of muscle spasm medication can also make a person drowsy. Hence people taking muscle relaxants should avoid driving any kind of vehicle or handle any heavy machinery. People put on these medications should also abstain from drinking alcohol as drug interactions with alcohol can have negative consequences on our health.