Are Muscle Relaxants Beneficial for Lower Back Pain?

Most Americans struggle with some kind of back pain. If you are suffering from chronic back pain, you may be wondering if muscle relaxants are a viable option for treatment. In almost all cases, muscle relaxants should be a second-line treatment for back pain and should only be prescribed after all other methods are exhausted.

While there are a handful of situations in which it can be beneficial to use these drugs for back pain, it’s almost always best for them to be avoided. Muscle relaxants are often prescribed in combination with an opioid painkiller, posing serious addiction risks. In fact, many people who start on muscle relaxants for back pain have a hard time waning of their medication. Additionally, these drugs pose significant health risks for elderly individuals. Here’s a look at some essential things to consider about using muscle relaxants for lower back pain.

Muscle Relaxants Should (Almost) Never Be Used as the First Approach to Treatment

Dealing with lower back pain, especially if the pain is chronic, can be extremely draining— both mentally and physically. And while it’s tempting to seek “quick fixes” for pain, these “solutions” almost never provide long-term sustainable results. In almost every case of back pain, it is essential to pursue other treatments before trying muscle relaxants. Physical therapy routines, exercise regimens, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and oTther conservative methods should all come before trying muscle relaxants. Additionally, the research available on the effectiveness of muscle relaxants for back pain is inconclusive and considered controversial by some physicians.

Important Things to Know About Muscle Relaxants for Back Pain

Muscle relaxants work by inhibiting nerve signals in the brain and spinal cord. This process can stop back pain by preventing muscle spasms that cause pain. However, this slowing down of the nervous system can have a wide range of side aspects—specifically in older adults above the age of 65. In fact, the American Geriatrics Society advises against muscle relaxants for this age group. Some of the potential side effects of muscle relaxants include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion

These side effects can place elderly individuals at an increased risk for re-injury. For example, the fatigue and dizziness caused by these drugs can cause older individuals to slip or fall, reinjuring themselves.

If you are going to take muscle relaxants for back pain, it’s essential to tell your doctor if you are experiencing any significant symptoms or side effects. Additionally, be sure to tell your doctor if the medication is not improving your pain.

Muscle Relaxants Pose Serious Abuse Risks

Muscle relaxants can be addictive, which is why they should only be used for a short time frame. Since these drugs depress the central nervous system, they can affect breathing and do pose overdose risks. Additionally, using a muscle relaxant in conjunction with another sedative drug, such as an opioid, can be especially dangerous.

Talk to a Skilled Spine Specialist to Figure Out the Best Solutions for Your Back Pain.

Back pain is often complicated and no two cases are the same. What may work for one person will prove ineffective for another. Ultimately, the best way to determine effective solutions for your pain is to consult a trusted spine specialist.

If you are struggling with back pain, visit your local NJ Spine and Orthopedic branch to receive expert medical care and diagnosis.  At NJSO, we pride ourselves on our ability to orchestrate personalized care plans that serve the unique needs of our patients. To schedule an appointment with one of our skilled spine experts, call (866) 272 9271 or fill out our online contact form.

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