Main content

    Health Information

    Muscle Relaxants

    Muscle Relaxants

    Examples

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

    How It Works

    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 relaxants can be helpful when severe muscle spasms follow the start of low back pain .

    Muscle relaxants are not recommended for use by pregnant women, older adults, or people who have depression or a history of drug or alcohol addiction.

    How Well It Works

    Muscle relaxants may improve acute or chronic low back pain, muscle tension, and mobility. But side effects are common. 1, 2

    Side Effects

    Possible side effects of muscle relaxants include:

    • Drowsiness or dizziness.
    • Possible addiction or dependence.
    • Dry mouth.
    • Urinary retention.

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

    What To Think About

    Muscle relaxant medicines work best when they are taken before bedtime. They should not be used by a person who needs to drive or operate machinery.

    Use of muscle relaxants is restricted to short-term use to avoid addiction.

    Complete the 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 December 14, 2011

    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.

    1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.