What to Know About Muscle Relaxers and Back Pain
Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 18, 2020
Muscle issues are a common source of spine pain, and one potential treatment option for these issues is a muscle relaxer. As the name implies, a muscle relaxer affects skeletal muscle function and helps to inhibit unwanted muscle function, like you may experience during a muscle spasm. Muscle relaxers can be a great complementary option for the right patient, but they often aren’t a stand alone solution. Below, we take a closer look at how muscle relaxers can be used to prevent and treat spinal muscle pain.
Understanding How Muscle Relaxers Can Effectively Treat Back Pain
Muscle relaxers are a powerful form of medication, so it’s important to use them appropriately in your treatment regimen. As we mentioned in the intro, they are considered a complementary form of medication in that they are unlikely to cure your problem on their own. They may decrease muscle spasms, but they won’t address the underlying reason why the muscle was spasming in the first place. Because of this, it is recommended that muscle relaxers are used in combination with another form of active treatment, like stretching, exercise or physical therapy. Muscle relaxers can serve to make these actions easier, so both treatments compliment one another.
It’s also worth noting that muscle relaxers are only effective for certain spinal issues. A herniated disc or spinal fracture will not benefit from a muscle relaxer regimen. It’s more common that muscle relaxers will be prescribed to treat acute back pain as opposed to chronic conditions, but it does depend on the underlying cause of pain.
Even if you do have a condition that qualifies for muscle relaxer treatment, your specialist may not recommend them for you. Most spine specialists will try other conservative techniques like exercise, physical therapy, weight management or short-term rest before jumping into treatments like muscle relaxers, which can cause issues if used incorrectly. You may also not be an ideal candidate from a health or age standpoint. Because of how they act on the central nervous system, muscle relaxers may not be recommended for patients with previous cognitive impairments, those with balance or walking issues, or individuals with a higher than normal fall risk. If you are taking other medications, muscle relaxers may not be advised.
Lastly, care needs to be paid to how you wean off of a muscle relaxer regimen. As we mentioned earlier, muscle relaxers are strong medications, and abruptly stopping them can lead to problems like nausea, vomiting or difficulty falling or staying asleep. Talk to your specialist about gradually reducing your dose or if they have recommendations for ending your prescription safely.
Muscle relaxers can be great when used correctly, but they can also be abused and fail to treat the underlying issue if you’re not careful, so make sure you only take them as directed by a spine specialist. For more information about muscle relaxers or to see if they could help with your situation, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.