Muscle Relaxants for Neck Pain

Examples

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

Muscle relaxants are sometimes combined with another medicine. For example, Norgesic combines orphenadrine with aspirin and caffeine.

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 relaxants may be helpful when severe muscle spasms follow the beginning of neck pain.

How Well It Works

Muscle relaxants are commonly used to treat muscle spasms in neck pain. But there is little research on their use for neck pain.1

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.

Side effects include:

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

These medicines are best taken at bedtime. If you use one during waking hours, strictly avoid driving, operating machinery, or doing similar activities that could be dangerous to you or to others if you become drowsy.

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

What To Think About

Muscle relaxants are recommended only for initial, short-term treatment of neck pain.

Diazepam and carisoprodol are not recommended for use by:

  • Pregnant women.
  • Older adults.
  • People who have depression or a history of drug or alcohol addiction.

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.

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. Binder A (2008). Neck pain, search date May 2007. 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
Current as of June 4, 2014

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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