Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Muscle Relaxants for Anesthesia
Muscle relaxants are medicines that block the nerve
impulses to the muscles. They sometimes are also referred to as neuromuscular
blocking agents. These medicines are often used during
anesthesia, but they do not usually affect whether you are awake. They also don't relieve pain. They are given through a vein.
Some general anesthetics also cause some muscle relaxation. But
in many cases a second medicine will be used during anesthesia to relax
muscle tone throughout your body or to relax specific muscles. For example, a
muscle relaxant may be used to relax muscles in the belly or chest for
surgery in those parts of the body or to relax eye muscles in certain kinds of eye
surgery. A muscle relaxant may permit easy movement of joints during bone and joint surgery.
Muscle relaxants are also used to relax the neck and throat and reduce the risk of injury when an
endotracheal (ET) tube is inserted. They may also be used to
relax the chest muscles when an ET tube is used to help a person
breathe (mechanical ventilation).
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerJohn M. Freedman, MD - Anesthesiology
Current as ofAugust 14, 2016
Current as of:
August 14, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & John M. Freedman, MD - Anesthesiology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.