Muscle Relaxants for a Herniated Disc

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
carisoprodol Soma
cyclobenzaprine Flexeril
diazepam Valium
metaxalone Skelaxin
methocarbamol Robaxin
orphenadrine  

How It Works

Muscle relaxant medicines relax muscles and may help reduce pain in people who have muscle spasms. 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 relaxant medicines are used when muscle spasms occur because of pain caused by a herniated disc.

How Well It Works

Muscle relaxant medicines are usually helpful for reducing the pain of muscle spasms. Muscle relaxants may help to relax muscle spasms caused by a herniated disc, but muscle relaxants will not affect the herniated disc itself.1, 2

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat.
  • Fainting.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Drowsiness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Lightheadedness.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Regular use of some muscle relaxants, such as diazepam and carisoprodol, can lead to physical dependence or addiction. But the risk is small when they are properly prescribed and taken by people who do not have a history of substance abuse.

Muscle relaxant medicines work best when taken before bedtime. They should not be used when you are driving or operating machinery.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

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.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last Revised May 14, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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