Should I Take Muscle Relaxers for Back Pain?

When back pain strikes, what people tend to want most is to eliminate their discomfort by whatever means necessary. For some, it’s taking some time off their feet. For others, it’s reaching for the very best medicine to help them get back to their busy lives. Let’s face it, we don’t like being sidelined from life for too long. Medicine like muscle relaxers may then sound like a pretty perfect remedy when back pain comes calling. According to research, this idea may be all wrong. 

In an Australian study, researchers reviewed 31 previous case studies spanning over 6,500 patients complaining of low back pain. Across these studies, 18 different prescription muscle relaxants had been used. Researchers sought to determine their efficacy and found it to be limited. They concluded that patients achieved barely more relief than they would had they taken a placebo. 

More Data to Question the Value of Muscle Relaxants for Back Pain

While the Australian study did also conclude that muscle relaxant medication provided some degree of relief for certain types of back pain, the remedy is not without risk. Taking a muscle relaxant may sound like no big deal, even if doing so only slightly reduces pain. However, patients should also understand the potential disadvantages that prescription muscle relaxants pose. Side effects known to occur with these medications include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Nausea
  • Headaches

Most muscle relaxants are also potentially addictive in nature. For this reason, it may be difficult to obtain a prescription. 

When Might Muscle Relaxants be Helpful for Back Pain?

We mentioned that the Australian study found that muscle relaxants may be suitable for some types of back pain. For cases of muscle tightness and spasms, this remedy may be appropriate but should not be viewed as the sole form of treatment. We must remember that muscle tightness and spasms have an underlying cause. The only way to determine what is causing muscle pain is to consult with a board-certified physician. The doctor may advise the temporary use of muscle relaxants to help the patient regain enough comfort to then engage in other treatments, such as physical therapy. 

Back pain is no fun, and it’s no joke. Rather than self-treating persistent or chronic back or neck pain, make a phone call to a specialist. Dr. Albert provides thorough care that leans toward conservative treatments as much as possible. Surgery is always the last resort. To schedule a visit in our NYC office, contact us at 212-606-1004.

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