Muscle relaxants are a group of drugs that are commonly prescribed to individuals experiencing acute lower back pain associated with muscle spasms. While they are called muscle relaxants, these drugs do not directly act on the muscles; rather, they act on the brain. Specifically, these medications cause a decrease in the activity of some motor neurons through modulation of brain neurotransmitter substances. These medications are also structurally similar to tricyclic antidepressant medications and thus may have some analgesic effects in muscle. By relaxing the entire body, muscle relaxants can help ease the pain associated with muscle spasms on a short-term basis. These medications also can help improve range of motion in the back. These medications, because of their structural similarity to tricyclic antidepressants, may have the undesirable side effect of sedation.
How can they help?
Studies have shown that muscle relaxants can work well in conjunction with other forms of treatment for back pain. For instance, these medications’ ability to improve range of motion can work as an effective preparation for physical therapy to further treat lower back pain. Research also has shown that muscle relaxants, when combined with a pain relieving or anti-inflammatory medication, are effective in easing pain when taken early after the onset of the discomfort.
As effective as muscle relaxants are, they come with potential side effects just like any other medication. The primary side effect of muscle relaxants is sedation. This drowsiness is why muscle relaxants should be used with extreme caution when performing tasks requiring concentration, such as driving or operating heavy machinery.
Researchers are performing additional studies to determine more about the benefits and potential side effects of muscle relaxants. If this type of medication and/or other conservative treatments have not helped ease your pain, contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our outpatient surgical procedures have helped tens of thousands of patients find relief from neck and back pain. Laser Spine Institute’s procedures are performed to treat bone spurs, facet disease, degenerative disc disease and other spinal conditions and have fewer risks than traditional open spine surgery.