Are Muscle Relaxers Effective For Treating Back Pain?

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: July 19, 2021

Old Man Back Pain

Many back pain sufferers turn to muscle relaxers when their back gets sore, but are muscle relaxers any more effective than a placebo? Not according to a new study out of Australia.

A review of 31 prior studies involving more than 6,500 patients with low back pain sought to determine if 18 different prescription muscle relaxants were effective in relieving pain. According to researchers, while muscle relaxers may ease some types of back pain on a short-term, limited basis, “the average effect is probably too small to be important,” said study author James McAuley, adding that “most patients wouldn’t be able to feel any difference in their pain compared to taking a placebo, or sugar pill.”

Side Effect Risk

You might be thinking that it’s not a big deal if muscle relaxers provide limited or only psychological benefits to a back pain sufferer, but there are plenty of negatives associated with the treatment, and those negatives can oftentimes outweigh the minimal potential benefits. Not only will it be costly to visit a provider and pay for prescription medication, but these muscle relaxers can have dangerous side effects. Some side effects of common muscle relaxers include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Balance problems

Moreover, muscle relaxers can also become addictive if not used correctly, which can lead to dependency or even an overdose.

Muscle relaxers can be helpful for a very small amount of back injuries, like muscle spasms or tight muscles, but even then they don’t treat the root cause of the spasm or tightness. They may be able to provide a very small amount of short-term relief, but they shouldn’t be seen as a long-term option. Muscle relaxers may be able to make movement and exercise less painful, which can allow patients to try more effective means at controlling and treating their back pain.

So while muscle relaxers can make it easier to pursue some more helpful active forms of treatment, in most instances they shouldn’t be seen as a stand-alone treatment method. They can certainly play a helpful role in a comprehensive treatment plan, but don’t expect to cure your back problems by heading to the pharmacy for a muscle relaxant. In most instances, the potential drawbacks will outweigh any relief you may find.

Contact a MN Spine Surgeon

Instead, pick up the phone and connect with a spine specialist who can uncover the true cause of your spine pain and work to find an individualized care plan to help you find relief. Dr. Sinicropi has done that for countless patients in the past, and he’d be more than happy to find a solution for you. For more information, or to set up an appointment and talk to him about your spinal discomfort, give his office a call today at (651) 430-3800.

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