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Muscle Relaxants

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
carisoprodolSoma
cyclobenzaprineFlexeril
diazepamValium
metaxaloneSkelaxin
methocarbamolRobaxin

How It Works

The muscle-relaxing effects of these medicines are most likely the result of their ability to depress the central nervous system.

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

Muscle relaxants may improve acute or chronic low back pain, muscle tension, and mobility. But side effects are common.1, 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 relaxant medicines work best when they are taken before bedtime. They should not be used by a person who needs to drive or operate 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.

Citations

  1. McIntosh G, Hall H (2011). Low back pain (acute), search date December 2009. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.

  2. Chou R (2010). Low back pain (chronic), search date April 2009. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRobert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last RevisedDecember 14, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 14, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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