Common Risks and Side Effects of Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants can be helpful in alleviating acute back pain, but patients should be aware of certain potential problems. For example, both carisoprodol and diazepam are classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as Schedule IV controlled substances based on their potential for abuse and addiction.

To minimize risk, the doctor should be informed of any history of seizures, liver disease, myasthenia gravis, or epilepsy, and any other medical conditions or concerns. Women should inform their doctors if they are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding.

    • Potential for abuse
      Muscle relaxants are typically prescribed early in a course of back pain, on a short-term basis. One reason for the short time frame is the potential for dependence or abuse. Muscle relaxants should be kept in a place where visitors and children will not find them. It is illegal to share these medications with anyone else.
    • Interactions with antihistamines
      Combining muscle relaxants and antihistamines should be avoided. The combination has been linked to an increase in emergency room visits for older adults.1
    • Interactions with alcohol
      Drinking alcohol can be especially dangerous when taking muscle relaxants. The sedative effect of the medication is intensified with alcohol use, and combining the two can be fatal.

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