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Prescription And Over The Counter Muscle Relaxers

Prescription Muscle Relaxers

Muscle relaxers are drugs that relax muscle spasms. As a result, skeletal muscle tone decrease. A person feels stiffness and sluggishness in movements with the overall reduction in muscle activity. Initially, muscle relaxants were only used by anesthesiologists to relieve muscle spasms during surgery. Now the medications are widely used in other areas of medicine and cosmetology. 

Soma (Carisoprodol)Muscle Relaxers (Baclofen, Zanaflex, Robaxin)
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Muscle relaxants work by acting on the body’s central nervous system. They do not heal muscles, which can treat themselves, but relieve the pain allowing the body time to heal itself. 

You cannot buy muscle relaxants over the counter in the United States. As with most medications, they are available only by prescription. 

Most muscle relaxants come in tablet form. 

Some examples of common muscle relaxers are: 

  • carisoprodol (Soma)
  • chlorzoxazone (Parafon Forte DSC)
  • cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril)
  • metaxalone (Skelaxin)
  • methocarbamol (Robaxin)
  • and tizanidine (Zanaflex)

Precautions When Taking Muscle Relaxants

When talking about a muscle relaxant, doctors warn patients of several precautions. First, the drugs relieve pain, which helps you feel healthy and go back to your everyday life. 

However, if you do it before you completely heal your, it can make the injury worse. Taking a few days off from your normal activities is probably wise. 

In any case, it’s always best to check with your doctor if you’ve any questions.

Muscle relaxants will only help with muscle pain. Avoid taking this type of drugs with any other types of pain. 

Patients taking muscle relaxants should avoid driving, operating machinery or anything that could be harmful. 

This precaution is important because some people may feel drowsy, dizzy, confused and light-headed while taking these medications. 

Other side effects of most muscle relaxers include blurred vision, clumsiness and unsteadiness due to the medication’s interaction with the central nervous system.

Muscle relaxants may also add the effects of alcohol and other drugs, which slow down the central nervous system. These drugs include antihistamines, cold medicines, allergy medicine, sleep aids, tranquillizers, medicines for seizures, and similar drugs. Make sure to check with your physician before taking any of the above. 

People with diabetes should be aware that an ingredient in muscle relaxants could cause false test results on one type of sugar test in the urine.

Patients should always consult with a doctor before taking a muscle relaxant and let them know about preexisting conditions. Previous heart attacks or conditions, kidney disease, hepatitis, history of drug abuse and pregnancy are just a few things you should check with your doctor before taking a muscle relaxant. 

For example, some muscle relaxers can pass into breast milk and upset or harm a nursing child.

Despite the side effects and cautionary measures, muscle relaxers are usually help alleviate pain.

Soma (Carisoprodol)


Soma, which is the more common name for carisoprodol, is a muscle relaxer. Combined with other muscle-relaxing measures such as rest and physical therapy, Soma can relieve the pain and discomfort caused by sprains, strains and other muscle injuries. 

This drug can also be used as a treatment option for people with fibromyalgia.

Taken by mouth, Soma blocks pain sensations between the nerves and brain. 

Carisoprodol may become habit-forming. Do not share the medication with other people. 

Doctors generally -prescribe the drug to individuals with a history of drug abuse and/or addiction.

People allergic to Carisoprodol or meprobamate (Equanil, Miltown) should avoid taking the drug. Individuals with porphyria, an abnormality in heme production, should also avoid taking the drug. Heme is an important bodily substance that is usually found in the blood and bone marrow.

Approved by the FDA for usage in 1959, Soma is not as commonly prescribed as newer muscle relaxants. 

Besides the fact that it can be addictive, the medication has a strong, generalized sedative effect. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of this medication, especially until you know how it affects you. 

Soma is not a good fit for patients with a prior history of seizure disorders such as epilepsy, liver and/or kidney disease. 

It can interact negatively with medications for allergies, coughs, colds, and other muscle relaxers, sedatives, tranquillizers, and certain vitamins. 

Make sure to let your doctor know about all over the counter and prescription medications you are already taking.

Soma is not recommended for pregnant women and/or nursing mothers. It is unknown whether the medication can pass through breast milk or harm an unborn fetus or a nursing baby. 

Doctors do not prescribe carisoprodol to a child younger than 12 years old. 

Take carisoprodol with milk or food as it can cause nausea and stomach upset. 

Other side effects of som include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Clumsiness
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations (increased heart rate)
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rash

If any of the following symptoms occur, call your doctor immediately:

  • Difficult breathing
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Burning in the eyes

Flexeril (Cyclobenzaprine) 


Flexeril, a generic brand of cyclobenzaprine, is prescribed as a muscle relaxant. The medication alleviates muscle spasms caused by the muscles themselves (not the nerves surrounding them). 

In combination with rest and – as needed – physical therapy, cyclobenzaprine is very effective. 

Generally used in the short-term (about 2-3 weeks), Flexeril has had some success long-term in treating generalized pain disorders such as Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 

Take Flexeril at night, unless otherwise is prescribed, as it can make you drowsy. 

Usually, doctors prescribe a dose of 5 -10 mg of cyclobenzaprine. 

Chemically related to tricyclic antidepressants (Elavil, Endep, Tofranil), Flexeril does not alleviate the symptoms of depression. If you are currently taking antidepressants or have done so within the last two weeks before being prescribed this medication, it’s wise to alert your doctor. 

Cyclobenzaprine can negatively interact with Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (Marplan, Nardil, Parnate), anti-seizure medications, sedatives, sleeping pills, tranquillizers, certain vitamins and some remedies, both over the counter and prescription, for coughs, colds and allergies.

People who have hyperactive thyroids, heart disease, especially those who recently suffered a heart attack, glaucoma and difficulty urinating, are not encouraged to take this medication. 

Flexeril is not expected to harm a fetus, but if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, alert your doctor.

Do not use cyclobenzaprine if you are breastfeeding without checking with your doctor first. 

This medication is not recommended for individuals over 65 either.

Common side effects of Flexeril include:

  • dry mouth or throat
  • blurry vision
  • drowsiness
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • diarrhoea
  • constipation
  • muscle weakness.

Some side effects are not normal and indicate a serious problem, such as an allergy to cyclobenzaprine. If you experience any of these symptoms after taking the medication, call your doctor immediately.

The following symptoms could become life-threatening. Seek immediate medical help if you are experiencing one or several of them:

  • rapid or pounding heartbeat
  • chest pain or tightness
  • pain spreading to upper arm or shoulder
  • unusual numbness and/or weakness, especially if only on one side of the body
  • sudden headache
  • sudden confusion, vision problems, speech and/or balance
  • fainting
  • light-headedness
  • jaundice
  • low-grade fever
  • dark urine
  • clay-coloured stools
  • seizure and/or convulsions
  • hallucinations
  • unusual thoughts or behaviour
  • bruising easily
  • inexplicable bleeding
  • hives
  • difficulty breathing
  • facial swelling
  • and swollen lips, tongue or throat.

Skelaxin (metaxalone)

Skelaxin (metaxalone) is a muscle relaxant used in conjunction with other measures such as rest, physical therapy. It relieves discomfort associated with acute musculoskeletal conditions such as pain and injury as well as muscle spasms. 

The recommended dosage for Skelaxim in adults and children over twelve years of age is one 800 mg tablet 3-4 times per day. 

Metaxalone provides prompt relief, usually within one hour of taking the medication. 

It is not habit-forming and provides an improved range of motion. 

The medication also does not interfere with posture and balance. Skelaxin provides minimal sedation. That is why you only have a small chance of feeling dizzy or sleepy while taking it. 

There are also no adverse cardiovascular effects to the medication, making it a commonly prescribed muscle relaxant. 

As a result, there are very few side effects of this drug. The most common include nausea and vomiting. Other side effects are: 

  • drowsiness,
  • dizziness,
  • headache,
  • nervousness,
  • irritability,
  • rash,
  • jaundice
  • anemia (in rare instances).

It is strongly suggested that you don’t take Skelaxin with alcohol or barbiturates as these could interact negatively. 

This medication can impair your ability to drive. 

Before taking this drug, let your doctor know if you have any liver problems, as metaxalone can impact it negatively. 

Provide your doctor with a list of all prescription, over the counter and herbal substances you are taking so that he/she can determine if there are any risks. 

If you plan to become or are currently pregnant or breastfeeding, please alert your doctor because Skelaxin can affect an unborn or newborn child. 

Zanaflex (Tizanidine)


Zanaflex, also known as tizanidine generically, is a muscle relaxant. It is used for various muscular-related conditions, including muscle tightness, cramps, spasms and more. 

A prescription medication, tizanidine, may help alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. Zanaflex works by blocking nerve signals from the spine to the brain, which helps relieve muscle pain.

Tizanidine can be habit-forming. Thus, you should be careful to take it exactly as prescribed. 

Start taking the drug at a low dose and slowly move up to a higher level to keep certain side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness at bay. (Make sure you get a clear schedule from your doctor and adhere to it.)

Zanaflex usually begins working within 1-2 hours of taking it. The effects wear off about 6 hours later (maybe a little less.) 

You should not take more than 36 milligrams of this medication a day. Follow your doctor’s instructions, and don’t take more than is prescribed.

Your body’s absorption of the medication depends upon whether you take it as a capsule or pill and on whether you take the meds on an empty stomach or not. You may even sprinkle a capsule’s contents over food.

If used in high doses or regularly, Zanaflex may cause dependence. If you decide to stop using the medication abruptly, then you will go into withdrawal. Reactions include: 

  • anxiety
  • tremor
  • increased blood pressure
  • higher than normal heart rate
  • muscle tension, etc. 

If you struggle with any of these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. 

Over The Counter Muscle Relaxers

In most cases, it is not possible to get muscle relaxants over the counter in the US. You need to have a medical prescription from your doctor to buy these medications. 

Your doctor may suggest you try over the counter NSAID’s medications or acetaminophen if you are suffering from moderate pain. And if they fail to help, prescribe more potent painkillers or muscle relaxers. 

Natural Muscle Relaxers

You can often reduce muscle pain by taking analgesics and rest, but other therapies are required in many cases.

Nowadays, sedentary lifestyles are especially common. In addition to this, stress and daily responsibilities contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle that can cause various discomforts.

Fortunately, in addition to the already known remedies, several natural relaxants have no side effects and help soothe the pain that interferes with normal life.

The following natural muscle relaxers may help you to relieve mild to moderate muscle pain. 


Because of its soothing and anti-inflammatory effects, both valerian oil and liquid valerian are widely used to relieve muscle tension. Its use reduces inflammation and speeds up circulation, which in turn improves oxygenation.

Drink up to two glasses (500 ml) per day. In oil, rub a small amount of valerian oil into the affected muscle area and rest.

As a side note, this herb may cause drowsiness.

Cayenne Pepper


It is widely used at home and is more than effective in quickly and effectively treating pain caused by muscle spasms. 

Although its pungent taste may be unbearable for some of us, cayenne pepper is an excellent remedy for diseases affecting the muscles.

It contains an active ingredient called capsaicin, which provides anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

Add small amounts of cayenne pepper to smoothies and tea. Or you can buy cayenne pepper oil and use it to massage tense muscles.



Chamomile is one of the most frequently used plants as an infusion in the world. Its antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects are well known, especially in treating digestive disorders, menstruation and nerves.

Chamomile is an excellent natural remedy that relieves muscle pain and swelling.

It has antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties that help to relax the muscles, especially in stress-induced tension.

Take one cup (250 ml) of chamomile tea 2-3 times a day.

Apply chamomile oil on your palms and rub well into the affected areas.



Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants and polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory effects. One experiment found that blueberry supplements improves athletic performance and reduces inflammation. It helps muscles relax and recover after a workout.

Peppermint Oil

peppermint oil

Peppermint oil is one of the natural remedies that help relax muscles when they are overly tense. It has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that reduce pain while promoting better blood circulation to help the injured area quickly.

Add a small amount of peppermint oil to the palms of your hands and rub it thoroughly into the affected area where the muscle tension has appeared. Massage for at least 5 minutes to achieve the best result

Cherry Juice

cherry juice

You can prevent muscle pain after a workout by drinking sour cherry juice. It contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help relax your muscles.

One study found that tart cherry juice helped runners reduce post-workout pain. Keep in mind that the researchers used a strong cherry concentration.

March, 17, 2021 by Laura Moody RPh