Muscle Relaxants

Looks at muscle relaxant drugs to treat low back pain. Includes generic and brand names such as carisoprodol (Soma) and metaxalone (Skelaxin). Covers why they are used and how well they work. Includes info on possible side effects.

Muscle Relaxants


Generic Name Brand Name
carisoprodol Soma
cyclobenzaprine Flexeril
diazepam Valium
metaxalone Skelaxin
methocarbamol Robaxin

How It Works

The muscle-relaxing effects of these
medicines are most likely the result of their ability to depress the
central nervous system.

Why It Is Used

Muscle relaxants can be helpful when
severe muscle spasms follow the start of
low back pain.

Muscle relaxants are not recommended for use by pregnant women,
older adults, or people who have
depression or a history of drug or alcohol

How Well It Works

Muscle relaxants may improve acute or chronic low back pain, muscle tension, and mobility. But side effects are common.footnote 1

Side Effects

Possible side effects of muscle relaxants

  • Drowsiness or dizziness.
  • Possible
    addiction or dependence.
  • Dry
  • Urinary retention.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Muscle relaxant medicines work best when they are taken before bedtime. They should not be used by a person who needs to drive or operate machinery.

Use of muscle relaxants is restricted to short-term use to avoid

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) ( What is a PDF document? ) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Chou R (2010). Low back pain (chronic), search date April 2009. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: ://


ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP – Emergency Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine

Current as ofNovember 29, 2017