What Are Muscle Relaxers?

What Are Muscle Relaxers? << Go Back

Muscle relaxers come in both prescription and non-prescription products and work to improve your muscles ability to relax after contracting. Muscle spasms occur when muscles contract but don't fully relax after like they're supposed to. Muscle relaxers are used to allow people to resume activities and participate them without pain or tightness in their muscles.

Best Muscle Relaxer


With our answer to what are muscle relaxers out of the way, it’s probably best to now look at what are the most common causes of muscle strains and spasms and what are some of the most popular muscle relaxant medication products used for treating them. There are many good products available, and most of them are effective in the same ways. We’ll also discuss in more detail how do muscle relaxers work, but the short answer to that is contained in the first sentence up at the top there. 

And lastly, we’ll also shed a little light on something most people are unaware of – a muscle in your body that you’d likely never guess has the immense strength and power that it does. We’ll give you a hint - it’s above your waist, despite what most of us would be inclined to believe.

Muscle Spasm Relief

Some may need a more detailed answer as to what are muscle relaxers. Everything from standard OTC (over-the-counter) medicines like Tylenol (Acetaminophen) or Ibuprofen (Advil) to prescription muscle relaxants like Flexeril and Robaxin can be seen as muscle relaxers. Muscle relaxants are usually prescribed for acute (severe, but temporary) rather than chronic (milder, but ongoing) pain.

Flexeril (Cyclobenzaprine) is one of the most commonly used muscle relaxer medications, but other popular ones include:

  • Skelaxin (Metaxalone)
  • Zanaflex (Tizanidine)
  • Valium (Diazepam)
  • Norflex (Orphenadrine)

There are many different types of muscle pain and sources of it that can be addressed by using muscle relaxers. The most common of these include fatigue, stiffness, aching, burning, lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, thigh pain, difficulty sleeping, cramps, immobility, pain when tilting head, and pain when standing from a seated or prone position.

How Do Muscle Relaxers Work

Following what are muscle relaxers, the next question people typically wonder is how do muscle relaxers work. As mentioned, we gave a basic overview of that to start things off here but let’s now go into greater detail. Muscle relaxants work as sedatives, and their effectiveness is based on depressing the central nervous system. We need to keep in mind here that when it comes to muscle spasms, the problem is with the relax part of the contact / relax function of the muscle. It’s relaxing, but not as completely as it needs to be.

The issue in treating this that it’s only the contraction part that is activated by nerve impulses. The relaxation occurs naturally - or it’s supposed to. By depressing the CNS these meds make it so that the nerve impulses that promote the muscle contraction are somewhat muted. The muscle still contracts, but not as much. The diminished relaxation response is then made more effective, and the person experiences less ongoing muscle pain or discomfort.

Muscle Relaxer Side Effects

It’s important to understand here that ANY medication that’s available to consumers in America will have been approved as safe for use as prescribed by a licensed physician and dispensed by a pharmacist. Still, its important to have an understanding what are muscle relaxers and the side effects of muscle relaxers so that you use them properly. Most people will experience nothing adverse when taking these medications, but some people may experience side effects including:

  • Drowsiness
  • Upset stomach
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

It is also important to make your physician aware of any additional medications you are taking before starting with a prescription. Flexeril and other muscle relaxer medications can have drug interactions with other medications. People taking the herbal supplement St. John’s Wort should also be cautious when using muscle relaxers at the same time.

Mighty Masseter

So, it’s now time to reveal the identity of the strongest muscle in the human body. The most common guess for people is to say it’s the quadricep muscles of the legs. That’s a logical assumption given the size of those muscles and the way they allow us to run and jump. However, you might be surprised to know that if you had the equivalent of your jaw muscle in your legs as quadricep muscles you’d be able to leap up to 40’ into the air!

It’s true and imagine all the superhero-like things you’d be able to do. Plus, you’d be able slam dunk a basketball with the best of the NBA stars, even if you’re only 5’8 in shoes! So there you have it, it may have nothing to do with what are muscle relaxers but the masseter – the clinical name for the jaw muscle – is the strongest muscle in the human body. Way back in 1996, Richard Hoffman of Lake City, Florida set a Guinness record for chomping with a bite force of an amazing 975 pound! That’s quite something, but even the average person to put around 200 pounds of bite pressure is impressive.

Definitely something to think about the next time you bite into something crunchy.

More on What Are Muscle Relaxers

It’s also accurate to say that muscle relaxers are most effective when used in conjunction with physical therapy, targeted recovery exercise, and gentle stretching. For a back pain muscle relaxer, receiving a spine alignment from a chiropractor can enhance the effectiveness of the medication in a big way. This is very beneficial, because many back pain medications are very sedating and impair thinking if taken excessively.

If a person’s spine is out of alignment, then their back pain may be resistant to the effects of muscle relaxers like Flexeril. In addition, muscle pain and /or spasms that are related to musculoskeletal injuries will need rehabilitative treatment in order to achieve permanent relief from debilitating symptoms. Sometimes muscle pain is the result of more than just overuse or hyperextension and it’s important to see a physician if intense pain continues without any improvement.



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IMPORTANT NOTE: The above information is intended to increase awareness of health information and does not suggest treatment or diagnosis. This information is not a substitute for individual medical attention and should not be construed to indicate that use of the drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. See your health care professional for medical advice and treatment.

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