Can Muscle Relaxants Ease Pain?
What are muscle relaxants?
A muscle relaxant is a medication that is prescribed to treat muscle pain and discomfort, such as spasms. They work through the brain and spinal cord to help muscles relax, reduce pain, and improve movement. Muscle relaxers are typically prescribed for acute pain, rather than chronic pain. Since they cause drowsiness, they can also improve sleep.
Muscle spasms can be caused by a number of conditions, including multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, motor neuron disease, and cerebral palsy. Muscle spasms and tightness may follow long-term injuries to the head or back. They can also occur due to a short-term injury, such as low back pain or whiplash.
Types of muscle relaxants
The two types of muscle relaxants include antispastic and antispasmodic. Antispastics treat muscle stiffness from neurological disorders, such as cerebral palsy or a spinal cord injury. Antispasmodics treat occasional muscle spasms.
The most common side effects of muscle relaxants include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Dry mouth
- Decreased blood pressure
Individuals should avoid driving or operating heavy equipment when taking muscle relaxers. They should not be mixed with alcohol. Muscle relaxants can be addictive and should not be used for more than ten days or taken more than prescribed. Muscle relaxants may interact with other medications or cause certain medical conditions to worsen. Ensure a health care professional is aware of all current medications and medical conditions prior to taking muscle relaxants.
When to contact a health care professional
A health care provider should be consulted if pain persists longer than two weeks. Other instances in which a physician should be contacted while taking muscle relaxants include the following:
- New spasticity (abnormal muscle tightness due to prolonged muscle contraction)
- Spasticity becomes more severe or frequent
- Severe or frequent muscle spasms
- Intense side effects
- Frozen joints or limited range of motion due to muscle contractions