Muscle relaxants are pain medications commonly used to relieve suffering caused by numerous illnesses, including fibromyalgia. Muscle relaxants help to ease tense muscles and reduce muscle spasms, thereby providing relief to many fibromyalgia patients. There are many types of muscle relaxants, so it is important to consult with your health care provider about medication information before using one.
How do Muscle Relaxants Work?
Muscle relaxants do not work by curing the source of the pain. Instead, muscle relaxants help to mask pain, enabling you to get on with your daily life. Like benzodiazepines, muscle relaxants also work on the brain. These medications work to reduce your brain’s ability to sense pain, allowing you to relax. They also block the pain sensations that your body’s nerves send to your brain.
Effectiveness in Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia muscle relaxants have proven to be very effective in treating muscle pain. In one study performed on cyclobenzaprine, fibromyalgia sufferers reported an increased ability to sleep and a decrease in their pain symptoms after using the drug for three months. Studies on orphenadrine citrate produced similar results. However, some muscle relaxants do not reduce the amount of muscle spasms that occur with fibromyalgia. Often, tinzanidine is prescribed to those who suffer from muscle spasms along with their pain.
Types of Muscle Relaxants
There are numerous types of muscle relaxants available in today’s market. The most common muscle relaxants for fibromyalgia include cyclobenzaprine, orphenadrine citrate, tizanidine, and carisoprodol.
Marketed under the name Norflex, orphenadrine citrate also acts on the brain to block muscle pain. It is typically used in conjunction with rest and physical therapy for maximum effectiveness. A study involving 85 fibromyalgia patients found that, after one year of treatment, orphenadrine citrate reduced pain symptoms by up to 34%. It is generally thought to be more effective than cyclobenzaprine, because it can be taken for longer periods of time.
Orphenadrine citrate has been known to cause disturbing side effects, including confusion and tremors. Prolonged use may require monitoring by your health care provider.
Tizanidine also works by blocking nerve impulses that are sent from the nerve endings in your body to your brain. Marketed under the name Zanaflex, tizanidine is particularly helpful in reducing fibromyalgia muscle spasms. Few other muscle relaxants work well for this purpose. Tizanidine works to increase muscle tone, thereby reducing muscle weakness and spasm.
Tizanidine should not be taken if you have liver or kidney disease or are currently taking oral contraceptives.
Marketed under the name Soma, carisoprodol is a muscle relaxant designed to ease stiffness, pain, discomfort, and muscle injury. It is also excellent at reducing muscle spasms in fibromyalgia patients. Like other muscle relaxants, carisoprodol works by blocking the pain sensations in the brain. Few studies are available regarding the effectiveness of carisprodol, though it is generally thought to be as effective as cyclobenzaprine.
Side Effects of Muscle Relaxants
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.
What Are the Side Effects of Muscle Relaxers?
Muscle relaxers are a category of medication, often prescribed for the treatment of pain caused by injury or a chronic condition such as fibromyalgia. Muscle relaxers do not heal the problem, however by acting with the central nervous system they do provide temporary pain relief in some people. Muscle relaxers can be addictive, and also can have negative side effects from their use, including physical body symptoms, impaired thinking and functioning, risk of addition and possible dangerous interactions with other medications.
Physical Side Effects of Muscle Relaxers
As with many medications, there are numerous side effects possible from muscle relaxers. These include upset stomach, nausea and vomiting. Some brands may cause an unpleasant taste or dry mouth. The most common side effect when taking muscle relaxers is drowsiness, and this is found with many patients.
Impaired Thinking and Functioning
One very serious risk with regard to taking muscle relaxers is that they can impair your thinking and functioning, due to their sedative effect. It is common to feel drowsy as a result of taking these, as well as lightheaded, unsteady on your feet or less alert than normal. Impaired eyesight, thought process and decision making are common as well. As a result it is strongly advised to avoid driving or operating machinery while taking muscle relaxers.
Risk of Addiction
In the United States, muscle relaxers require a prescription and are considered a controlled substance. They are a commonly abused substance. Those with a history of drug or alcohol addiction should not use muscle relaxers, and they should also never be mixed with alcohol. As a result of the pain relief these medications provide, they can become addictive to those in chronic pain. Additionally, once the body becomes used to a daily intake of a muscle relaxer, it can become dependent on them to function, and one may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking them.
Possible Drug Interactions
As with all medications, there is a risk of interactions with other medications one is taking. When mixed with some types of medications the efficacy of muscle relaxers are increased, making the drug dangerous. In women some muscle relaxers can have an interaction with estrogen supplements. The specific drug interactions depend on the exact muscle relaxant you’re taking, so check with your health care provider to avoid harmful interactions. However, several muscle relaxants can interact with alcohol, and this interaction increases their sedative effect, causing impairment and an inability to drive.
The 7 Best Natural Muscle Relaxers
Have you ever felt an involuntary tightness, hardness, or bulging in a muscle? That’s called a muscle spasm. This type of cramping can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons and in many areas of your body.
Spasms are common in the abdomen, arms, hands, and feet. You can also feel them in your calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps, and along the rib cage. Many cases of simple muscle spasms are caused by heavy exercise and vigorous sport. Patience, rest, gentle stretching, and massaging the muscle can help alleviate the pain.
People with acute neck and back pain often suffer from muscle spasms. Pregnant women are also prone to muscle spasms because of the sudden increase in weight. Menstruating women experience muscle cramps due to uterine contractions, though the severity of the pain varies by person. Muscle spasms are a common side effect of chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and McArdle’s disease.
While muscle spasms can be painful, relief is available with these seven natural muscle relaxers.
1-Chamomile is an ancient herb that’s used to treat a variety of ailments, including muscle spasms. It contains 36 flavonoids, which are compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties. You can massage chamomile essential oil onto affected muscles to provide relief from spasms. Chamomile tea can also help relax sore muscles.
2-Cherry Juice People who sign up for marathons train vigorously, often causing a lot of stress on their muscles. Cherry juice can help combat the inflammation and muscle pain that is so common in runners. Studies reveal that drinking tart cherry juice can minimize post-run pain. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities in the fruit help to relax muscles naturally
Another sweet and natural way to relax your muscles is by eating blueberries. A recent study suggests that having a blueberry smoothie before and after exercise can help accelerate recovery from muscle damage. Blueberries have antioxidant powers and have been shown to decrease oxidative stress and inflammation.
4-Capsaicin, a substance found in cayenne pepper, is a natural muscle relaxant that’s often recommended to people who live with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. It can be added to food, like in this grilled shrimp with lime cream recipe, or you can find cayenne pepper in capsule form and as a cream. When used as a cream, you can apply it to areas affected by muscle spasms.
5- Vitamin D
People who have regular muscle pain or spasms might be deficient in vitamin D. This vitamin comes in many forms, including liquids, tablets, and capsules. You can also get it in foods like eggs, fish, and fortified milk. Getting regular exposure to sunlight is another way to get vitamin D!
Magnesium is vital for human nutrition, as it maintains normal muscle and nerve function. Although it’s rare, early symptoms in people who are deficient in this mineral include muscle pain. This mineral is mostly found in foods such as bananas, almonds, legumes, and brown rice. It’s also available as a supplement.
perhaps the best and most natural way to relax your muscles is to rest. Make sure to get lots of sleep, drink plenty of fluids, and try not to overwork the affected muscle. Using heat pads or ice packs on the muscle can provide immediate relief. Sometimes muscle spasms are due to over-stimulated muscles, and ice can help calm down the transmission of impulses from the brain to the overactive muscle.
Muscle Relaxers & Working Out
Muscle relaxers are a group of medications that are most commonly prescribed for spasms and pain due to musculoskeletal conditions such as muscle strains, tension headaches, fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome. They are also used for spasticity due to neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. Be aware of the side effects of muscle relaxers because they can affect your workout or make exercise dangerous.
There are two types of muscle relaxers: antispasmodic and antispastic. Antispasmodic relaxants are used to treat muscle spasms due to musculoskeletal conditions, such as low-back pain. The most commonly prescribed antispasmodics include Flexeril, Soma, Skelaxin, Robaxin, Norflex, Zanaflex and Valium. Antispastic relaxants are used to treat spasticity due to neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy. The most commonly prescribed antispastics include Dantrium and Lioresal.
Muscle Relaxers and Exercise
Although there is little in the way of literature advising for or against the use of muscle relaxers while exercising, common sense should prevail. The most common side effect of muscle relaxers is drowsiness. Exercising while feeling drowsy can be dangerous when using exercise equipment, such as treadmills, and can lead to injury. Drowsiness can also diminish the effectiveness of your workout by causing you to fatigue early. Other side effects of muscle relaxers, such as dizziness and temporary loss of vision, may prove to be equally dangerous while working out. This can affect your balance and potentially result in head injuries.
The American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society recommend that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, or NSAIDs, be used as a first-line modality for musculoskeletal conditions. If you do not achieve adequate pain relief with NSAIDs, then you may try taking a muscle relaxer. It is best to take your muscle relaxer before bedtime to minimize the sedative effects.
Muscle relaxers are indicated for short-term use only and should not be used longer than two weeks for acute musculoskeletal conditions. Due to the risk of side effects, drug interactions and addiction, muscle relaxants should not be used alone as treatment for acute musculoskeletal conditions. They should be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as physical therapy or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories.
Certain muscle relaxers, such as Flexeril, are known to have greater sedative properties than others, such as Skelaxin. Until you know how your body reacts to muscle relaxers, you should not exercise, drive or operate heavy machinery. Talk to your doctor to determine whether exercise is appropriate for you. Other potential side effects of muscle relaxers may include gastrointestinal irritation, discoloration of urine, respiratory depression, dizziness and dry mouth
Ref:webmd,healthline,fibromyalgia-symptom and ihealthy