Modern medicine is constantly advancing and has been for centuries. The ailments that used to be the bane of existence even fifty years ago are nothing more than mere nuisances, treatable with single trips to a doctor’s office. One area that continues to evolve is that of tension management. In times of old, tension management was nothing more than biting a leather strap while an ill-trained doctor sawed away infected appendages. Thankfully those times have long passed, and muscle relaxers are a viable, modern method of treating tension.
Who Uses Muscle Relaxers and Why?
These days, muscle relaxers are rather ubiquitous and can be found in many households. The demographic of users for muscle relaxants is varied and runs the gamut from young children and teenagers to athletes, adults, and seniors. Essentially, any person who needs the ability to lower muscle tone and ‘calm’ muscle responses is a candidate for muscle relaxants. Common reasons for this need are uncontrollable muscle spasms, chronic muscle cramps, hyperreflexia, and chronic pain. Muscle relaxants are an excellent and useful method for dealing with and managing the pain and complications associated with these problems.
What Are the Benefits?
The benefits of muscle relaxants are an acute decrease in pain, a marked decrease tension, and alleviation of stress in injured muscle tissue. These benefits greatly increase the standard or leaving in the patients that take muscle relaxants. Obviously, living with less pain has a dramatic effect on a person’s overall health.
“Muscle relaxants are commonly indicated for the treatment of two different types of conditions: spasticity from upper motor neuron syndromes and muscular pain or spasms from peripheral musculoskeletal diseases or injury such as low back pain.” -Excerpt from an article about the effects of muscle relaxants on the liver
What Are the Downsides?
With all medicines, there are downsides and muscle relaxants are no different. With some of the prescription muscle relaxants, there is the chance for side effects to occur. These can include dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, sleep disorders, trembling, and muscle fatigue among other effects. Also, if a patient or his or her family has a history of hallucinations or dementia, muscle relaxants could potentially cause these reactions to show up, much to the detriment of the patient. Another downside is the potential for physical dependency to develop. That is why it is important to strictly follow a doctor’s orders when taking prescribed muscle relaxants.
“An estimated 2 million American adults reported muscle relaxant use” –Study of Skeletal Muscle Relaxant use in the United States http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15082991
Common Muscle Relaxants: A list
A few common muscle relaxants are as follows:
• Carisoprodol (Soma): Used to control muscle spasms and treat pain. It is generally prescribed on a short term basis.
• Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril): Generally prescribed on longer term basis, this relaxant has similar properties to antidepressants. It is used to alleviate lower back pain associated with muscle tension and spasms
• Diazepam (Valium): Another short term relaxant, Valium is used to treat severe pain. Caution must be taken, as it is habit forming and can affect sleep cycles.
• Metaxalone (Skelaxin): Used to treat discomfort associated with skeletal muscle systems, Skelaxin is often paired with physical therapy and rest to aid relief.
The Strongest Muscle Relaxant
Many studies have been conducted to search for the strongest muscle relaxant, yet there are a few things to consider. The most important variable to consider in determining the strength of a relaxant is where the pain being treated is located. Some relaxants work better for lower back pain than others, but may not work as well for leg pain than others. That being said, user testimonials consistently point to Soma (carisoprodol) for being the most effective at managing pain related to muscle complications. Keep in mind, however, that not all patients react the same way to a muscle relaxant as everyone else.
“This has worked for me since I was 30 years old dealing with my first herniated disc.” –Alice Made, 72, on taking Soma
Over-the-Counter Muscle Relaxants
Besides prescription only muscle relaxants, there exist many natural and over the counter relaxants that can be purchased at health stores or online. These over the counter relaxants are capable of mitigating pain and muscle and tension without the need for a doctor’s consultation or expensive proscription. Another benefit to these products is that they are completely natural and have no side effects
Kava Kava is a natural muscle relaxant that can be purchased over the counter with no restrictions in the United States. Derived from the Kava plant (Piper Mystheticum), it is used to treat pain, stress, and anxiety. It can be found and taken in many forms. Dried Kava root is a common form . There are also concentrated extracts of the Kava plant in either liquid, pill or even candy form that one can use. The feeling induced from taking Kava is that of tranquility and relief. In many pacific nations, Kava is used as a means of treating pain from infants to seniors. There are little side effects to Kava.For more Information, this is a great source.
“Kava Kava has long been used by Pacific Islanders as a pain reliever. Kava Kava will help relax tired, sore muscles.” –Excerpt from an article by Lindsay Wolsey.
Safety: Is It Possible to Overdose on Muscle Relaxants?
Like all substances on this planet, care must be taken when considering dosage. It is highly possible to overdose on muscle relaxants due to their narcotic nature. Over the counter relaxants such as Kava Kava are less likely to produce an overdose if more than the recommended amount is taken. When taking muscle relaxants, always follow the doctor’s prescription fully. More is not always more. Consider other means of relaxing your muscles by using deep tissue massage. Also try to remove stress from your life. And of course, sometimes mechanical therapy is worth a try. Either book an appointment with your massage therapist or use a good massage chair pad.
Note: the above is not medical advice.