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Muscle relaxers are a broad class of medicines that help treat muscle spasms, spasticity (jerky movements), and muscle pain.  Some muscle relaxers are used for other conditions like spinal cord injury, brain injury, back pain, MS, cerebral palsy, and ALS.  Muscle relaxers do require a prescription to use.

Many people suffer from muscle spasms, and muscle relaxers can provide some relief when used appropriately for short periods of time.

There are many different types of medicines that are considered muscle relaxers and they can all have different side effects:

  • Carisoprodol (Soma®)
  • Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril®)
  • Methocarbamol (Robaxin®)
  • Orphenadrine (Norflex®)
  • Baclofen (Lioresal®)
  • Tizanidine (Zanaflex®)
  • Diazepam (Valium®)
  • Metaxalone (Skelaxin®)

What happens when muscle relaxers are taken inappropriately?

The effects can vary depending on the specific medicine, but generally they will cause:

  • sleepiness
  • lingering grogginess
  • confusion
  • slurring words
  • dizziness
  • difficulty walking

Muscle relaxers have been abused for some of these effects. They can also become habit forming.

If they are used in combination with some other medicines or alcohol or in overdoses; these effects can be much worse and include:

  • seizures
  • irregular heartbeats
  • low blood pressure
  • slow / shallow breathing
  • coma
  • heart attack
  • death

There are many prescription medicines that can interact with these medications.

How can toxicity of muscle relaxers be prevented?

  • Make sure you follow all directions on the prescription.
  • NEVER take other people’s prescriptions or share your prescription with others.
  • Ensure all medicine is out of reach from children.
  • Be extremely careful, do NOT take extra doses.

If the person is not breathing or not responsive, call 911 immediately.  Otherwise, call NC Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 or chat with us here for further treatment advice.

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Last Updated on 12/13/2023