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Pharmacologic Pain Management

Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants (often called muscle relaxers or sedatives) are typically used to treat acute muscle problems due to injury, but can be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for the management of chronic painful muscle strains or spasms. In instances of chronic lower back pain or neck pain, muscle relaxants can reduce pain and increase mobility or range of motion. Many different types of muscle relaxants are available today. When you see our pain management physicians, we will determine if you are a good candidate for this type of pharmacologic pain management. If so, we will establish whether muscle relaxants are best suited to your condition and prescribe the most appropriate medication to help you control your pain and bring relief.

Muscle relaxants work to reduce muscle tone and relax tight, tense muscles by interrupting the muscle spasm-pain cycle. Muscles are prone to spasm from a variety of causes, resulting in pain that can radiate to other parts of the body. Persistent pain, for any length of time, can cause anxiety or stress which may, in turn, cause a painful spasm to occur. Some muscle relaxants block calcium channels to reduce muscle spasms, while other types cause muscle relaxation centrally by inhibiting the central nervous system (CNS).

General side effects can include double or blurred vision, dry mouth, nausea, sleepiness, and drowsiness. We recommend that these medications are not taken before driving or operating heavy machinery. Along with other medications used in pharmacologic pain management, some muscle relaxants may have a risk for possible addiction or dependence. These drugs must be used with caution and under the strict direction of pain management physicians. Muscle relaxants may interact with some other medications. Given the potential drug to drug interactions, it is important that you disclose all your other medications, including over-the-counter or nonprescription medicines, to your doctor prior to initial use, as well as any unusual side effects.