Your muscles are tight and achy. You may even feel ropy bands with firm knots in the mid-section of the muscle. Just pressing on them can send your pain through the roof, but can muscle relaxants ease the tension in your muscles and help untie your painful knots? The question of whether muscle relaxants can relieve your pain is complicated by the fact that this class of medications is very diverse, meaning that many drugs in this class vary substantially from the others. So some muscle relaxants might do the job better than others. Here are the best of them.
1. Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)
Flexeril, the brand name for the drug cyclobenzaprine, is a muscle relaxer that blocks nerve impulses that run from the muscles to the brain. The standard dose of cyclobenzaprine is 5 mg taken three times daily. It may also be given in 10 mg doses as well. The drug should not be used for more than two to three weeks and can be taken with or without food. It can potentially be addicting and cause withdrawal symptoms.The most common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness and dry mouth. Other listed side effects include nausea, constipation, blurred vision, headache and nervousness.
2. Orphenadrine Citrate (Norflex)
It is a centrally acting analgesic muscle relaxant. It is used as an adjunct to rest, physical therapy and symptomatic measures for acute musculoskeletal pain. In the study that reviewed the response of Orphenadrine Citrate in 85 fibromyalgia patients, over a one-year period a significant improvement in general pain was noted in 34% of patients taking Orphenadrine Citrate. The usual short-term dosage is one tablet (100 mg). Common side effects include confusion, anxiety and tremors, dry mouth and tachycardia. A few contra-indications include glaucoma, prostatic hypertrophy, pyloric/duodenal obstruction or stenosing peptic ulcers.
3. Carisoprodol (Soma)
Carisoprodol, the brand name drug Soma, is a muscle relaxer that specifically treats muscle stiffness, pain and injury; it also reduces muscle spasms in fibromyalgia. It does this by interacting with pain receptors in the brain. Carisoprodol has not been shown to be effective for prolonged use, so it is not indicated for long-term usage. The drug is typically taken three times a day and at bedtime, in doses of either 250 or 350 mg tablets. Side effects include rapid heartbeat, facial flushing, drowsiness, dizziness, tremor, agitation, headache, nausea and seizures.
4. Tizanidine (Zanaflex)
Tizinadine, also known as Zanaflex, is commonly used to treat tense and rigid muscles that are the result of spasms. Dosage typically starts at 4 mg to minimize side effects, and it is effective for many people at the dose of 8 mg. It should not be taken more than three times a day, with a maximum of 36 mg in 24 hours. This medication causes drowsiness in approximately 50 percent of people taking the drug, and can lower blood pressure, causing lightheadedness and dizziness. Other side effects can include dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, frequent urination, runny nose, speech disorders and vomiting.
All muscle relaxants are associated with side effects, and you should be monitored carefully while taking any type of this medication. The most common side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness, and constipation. As with benzodiazepines, muscle relaxants can also be habit forming. Muscle relaxants should not be taken for extended periods of time unless under the direction of a health care professional.