6 Tips For Taking Muscle Relaxants Safely
For many people suffering from debilitating back pain, muscle relaxants can provide relief. Typically prescribed early in a course of treatment, this class of medications provides a sedative effect, relaxing spasming or cramping muscles and relieving associated pain. If you’re new to muscle relaxants or it’s been a while since you’ve taken them, here are some tips to help make sure you use them safely.
If You’re Pregnant or Breastfeeding, Avoid Them
Muscle relaxants are not the best option for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. To make sure you’re choosing the safest option for you and your baby, discuss alternative pain relief options with your doctor.
Beware of Drowsiness
If you can manage it, try taking muscle relaxants in the evening. Many relaxants make users exceedingly drowsy, so do not drive or operate machinery until you have had a chance to assess their effect. Not all muscle relaxants are created equal, so it is critical that you allow time to determine how they may affect your functionality.
Plan a Medication Schedule
If you are suffering from severe pain, your doctor may prescribe pain medication along with a muscle relaxant to provide relief. Be sure to set up a schedule that allows you to stagger your dosage of each medication. If you take both together, you may find that you are in severe pain before it’s time to take your next dose. Instead, take your muscle relaxant either a couple of hours before or after your pain medication. This will ensure that you have a constant stream of medication in your system to help manage the pain.
Watch for Side Effects
Muscle relaxants come with a long list of potential side effects including, nausea, constipation, blurred vision, confusion, fainting, breathing problems, and urinary issues. It is critical that you keep an eye out for any common side effects and pay close attention to how your body reacts to the medication. Always inform your doctor of anything out of the ordinary as soon as possible. It may be necessary to discuss alternative medications if your body does not respond well to a particular drug.
Wean Yourself off Gradually
If you’ve been taking muscle relaxants for a while, be certain to wean yourself off of the medication gradually; do not simply stop taking it altogether. Doing so puts you at risk for withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sleep issues, and vomiting. Instead, consult with your doctor to determine a schedule to taper off your medication safely.
Beware of Addictive Behavior
For some patients, muscle relaxants may be addictive. Because of their addictive nature, it’s best to use them only for shorter durations. Be sure to keep them out of sight and in a safe place where others do not have access to them. Also, make certain to never combine them with alcohol or other depressive medications. Doing so puts you at dangerous risk of developing breathing problems which may prove fatal.
If prescription pills seem to only provide temporary relief from excruciating back pain, it may be time to consult with a local pain expert. Marc Cohen and the spine experts at the Spine Institute have experience helping the people of the New Jersey area alleviate back pain through patient-specific methods. Contact the Spine Institute at one of our many locations to schedule your appointment today.