Skeletal Muscle Relaxers

When you injure your neck or back, your muscles may seize up, making it difficult to get through your day, your exercises and/or your physical therapy.  When this happens, your doctor may prescribe skeletal muscle relaxers to help sped your progress.

Here are 3 types of skeletal muscle relaxers.  Regardless of which you may take, certain similarities are shared by all.  Perhaps the most important is that they'll likely make you drowsy.  This means that driving, operating heavy machinery and similarly risky activities are out while you're under the influence of these drugs.

Another thing for families to know is that with all the skeletal muscle relaxers listed here, experts are not sure if the drugs will be passed to your fetus or through breast milk to your baby.


Skelaxin-Metaxalone chemical model
Skelaxin-Metaxalone chemical model. LAGUNA DESIGN/Collection:Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Skelaxin is the brand name for metaxalone.  While the FDA has approved the generic form of this medication, it is not actually being sold on the market.  As with the other muscle relaxers described on this page, it's used as an adjunct for physical therapy and rest when your muscles get too tight. It works by suppressing nerve impulses in the brain and spinal cord.

The website says the Skelaxin can skew results of certain medical tests, so if you're scheduled for one, be sure to tell (or remind) your doctor that you're taking this drug. also says not to use Skelaxin if you have anemia, liver disease or kidney disease.  The same is true if you're allergic to it.



Carisoprodol molecule model.
Carisoprodol molecule model. LAGUNA DESIGN/Collection:Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Carisoprodol is available generically; its brand names are Soma and Vanadom.

Carisoprodol also likely suppresses nerve impulses in the brain and spinal cord, and is used as an adjunct to physical therapy and rest for muscle related pain or injury.

The website says that carisoprodol can be habit forming.  Based on that, a few warnings are in order:

  • Only the person to whom it was subscribed should use it
  • Never give carisoprodol to someone with a history of drug abuse or addition.
  • If you've taken carisoprodol for a long time and stop, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.  Be sure to talk to your doctor before suddenly going off this medication; you may need to taper, and she can help you get this right.
  • Carisoprodol can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert. Avoid drinking alcohol. It can increase drowsiness and dizziness caused by carisoprodol.

If you're allergic to carisoprodol or meprobamate (Equanil, Miltown), you shouldn't take carisoprodol.  The same is true if you have porphyria.  Be sure to communicate with your doctor before taking carisoprodol if you have any drug allergies, kidney disease or liver disease, or if you get seizures.



Flexeril - Cyclobenzaprine drug molecule
Flexeril - Cyclobenzaprine drug molecule. LAGUNA DESIGN/Collection:Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Cyclobenzaprine is available as Flexeril, Amrix and in generic form. Like the other types of muscle relaxers, cyclobenzaprine may cause dizziness or drowsiness, so you shouldn't drive, lift heavy objects or do vigorous exercise while under its influence.

Cyclobenzaprine is used together with rest and physical therapy to treat skeletal muscle conditions such as pain or injury. When you use it in conjunction with physical therapy you may make speedier progress, especially with the exercise portion of your treatment.

Cyclobenzaprine is related to tricyclic antidepressants, and it acts centrally on the nervous system. 

According to, reasons not to take this medication include, among other things:  Thyroid disorder, heart block, congestive heart failure, a heart rhythm disorder, or you have recently had a heart attack.

As with skelaxin and carisoprodol, your doctor's decision/recommendation go with  Flexeril (instead of either of the others) may be based on the anticipated side effects, your preference and potential drug interactions.


Skelaxin. website. Revision Date: Dec 2015. Accessed Jan 2016.

Carisoprodol. website. Revision Date: April 2009. Accessed Jan 2016.

Cyclobenzaprine. website. Revision Date: Dec 2015. Accessed Jan 2016.


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