Muscle relaxants are the medications used to treat muscle pain, spasm or spasticity. Chemically, these are synthesized drugs of diverse sets. Some of them act on the skeletal muscles. Although, muscle relaxants provide relief from the pain and discomfort, there are certain risks and side effects associated with the use of muscle relaxants which is important to be aware of.
Risks and Side Effects of Muscle Relaxants
All types of the synthetic muscle relaxants exhibit some or the other adverse side effects which are listed as follows:
- Dizziness and drowsiness.
- Heart failure and paralysis.
- Dry mouth.
- Mood changes such as confusions and/or hallucinations.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Strong sedative effect.
- Urinary retention.
- Allergic reactions (rash, hives, itching etc.).
In very few cases, very serious side effects of muscle relaxants are caused such as:
- Abdominal pain.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Lack of appetite.
- Dark urine.
- Loss of coordination.
- Yellowing of eyes (jaundice).
- Severe tiredness.
Side Effects of Specific Muscle Relaxants
- Prolonged use of carisoprodol causes either dependence or withdrawal symptoms and abuse.
- Long term use of baclofen causes depression in the activity of central nervous system (CNS).
- Tizanidine may reduce blood pressure.
- Cyclobenzaprine produces confusion and lethargy. When taken singly or in combination, it may be toxic.
- Dantrolene causes respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, or other lung diseases. It may cause sensitivity to light as well.
Preventions while Using Muscle Relaxants
- Many a times, people using muscle relaxants lose their alertness and are advised not to drive vehicles or operate heavy machines or make important decisions since any muscle relaxant induces drowsiness and gives sedative effect. Hence, they must be taken only at bedtime.
- People using Muscle relaxants should be advised not to take them for a long time.
- They should not be taken by the elderly people, pregnant women, drug and alcohol addicts, and people who suffer from depression.
- A combination of muscle relaxants and histamines should be avoided.
- Cyclobenzaprine is not advised for patients with overactive thyroid, heart rhythm problems and cardiac problems.
The synthetic muscle relaxers reduce muscle pain and spasm. They are to be used for short term only. They are not prescribed for long term use, since they cause a number of side effects. Long-term use can also result in adverse health complications. Also one should avoid use of muscle relaxers if there are alternate therapies available. Rest, physical therapy, massage and use of essential oils do provide relief from back pain and neck pain. Consistent use of alternative therapies will allow an individual to live a healthy life in future and also escape from the side effects of muscle relaxants.