Guide To Baclofen

Baclofen was first developed in Switzerland in the 1960s. This prescription medication was initially marketed to treat epilepsy. It belongs to a group of drugs called muscle relaxants. Typically, patients take this medication orally. However, it can also be delivered directly into the patient's spinal cord. The recommended starting dose for many patients is fifteen milligrams per day for the first three days. The dose is gradually increased over several days, up to a maximum of eighty milligrams per day.  Some individuals may receive an intrathecal pump of this medication at lower doses. Patients are closely monitored when they take this medicine. 

This is a common medication for multiple sclerosis treatment. Doctors have also prescribed it as a way to achieve muscle spasm pain relief. Baclofen is also a common medication for stiff muscles in this condition. Of course, patients should understand how this medication works as a treatment for multiple sclerosis and similar conditions before taking it. 

How It Works 

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It is important to recognize the medication's classification as a GABA-B agonist. Baclofen helps relax muscles by activating GABA-B receptors, making it similar to pregabalin. This medication also acts as an inhibitory ligand that blocks the release of certain neurotransmitters. It is believed to inhibit both mono and polysynaptic reflexes. The body quickly absorbs baclofen, and it has a half-life of two to four hours. Thus, patients have to take it several times a day for symptom management. This medication does not change much during its time in the body. It is mainly excreted through the kidneys. This feature could make it useful for certain patients with liver disease that is related to alcohol use. 

Continue reading to learn about the uses for this medication next.

Uses And Benefits 

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The uses for this medication are primarily centered around its ability to reduce muscle spasms. In addition to reducing spasms, baclofen also decreases stiffness and pain in the muscles. It is frequently used to help multiple sclerosis patients. The medication is particularly beneficial in the relief of flexor spasms in these individuals. It can also restore residual function in patients with reversible spasticity associated with this condition. This medication could be helpful for certain patients with Huntington's disease too. It is not recommended to treat Parkinson's disease, cerebral palsy, or strokes. However, baclofen may be useful for individuals with spinal cord injuries. 

In addition to its approved uses, doctors may prescribe this medication on an 'off-label' basis. For example, it is a possible treatment for acid reflux. It may also be recommended to help individuals with alcohol use disorders. Patients should always ask their doctor about the risks and benefits of this medication for their health needs. This is especially important if it is being prescribed 'off-label.' 

Discover the potential side effects of this medication next.

Potential Side Effects 

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Patients who take this oral medication may experience confusion, constipation, dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Other common side effects include sleeping difficulties, sweating, weakness, and increased urination. Generally, these side effects resolve on their own as the patient's body adjusts to the medicine. However, patients should let their doctor know if these effects persist or worsen. 

Some individuals could develop rare side effects, including diarrhea, slurred speech, ankle swelling, weight gain, and unusual excitement. Individuals who notice chest pain, depression, blood in the urine, or ringing in the ears should contact their doctor immediately. Additionally, they should be alerted right away if the patient faints or has hallucinations. Seizures, breathing difficulties, blurred vision, and muscle pain may be signs of an overdose. Patients should receive emergency medical attention if these occur. 

Reveal precautions for this medication next.

Precautions To Remember 

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Before prescribing this medication, doctors need to know if the patient has any history of seizures, ulcers, kidney disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure. The doctor will also ask their patient about any history of strokes, blood clots, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Baclofen may not be safe for individuals with these conditions. Doctors may also need to prescribe alternative medicine for patients who take opioids. Children under twelve years old cannot take this medication. In addition, it has not been studied in patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Individuals who take this medicine may be at an increased risk of developing an ovarian cyst. Patients should check with their doctor about their risk of this effect before starting this medicine. 

Individuals should not consume alcohol while taking baclofen. Since this medication can impair reaction time and cognition, individuals should exercise caution when driving or doing activities that require mental alertness. This medicine reduces muscle tone, and it may cause difficulties with balance and movement in some activities. Finally, patients should not take this medication when they plan to be physically active. 

Uncover information on potential medication interactions next.

Potential Medication Interactions

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Baclofen has twenty-four major interactions and over three hundred moderate interactions. Serious side effects may occur if this medicine is taken with other muscle relaxers or with opioids, including codeine. Moderate drug interactions could develop if this medication is used with levomethadyl or buprenorphine. Increased drowsiness might occur in patients who use this medicine with benzodiazepines. One example of this is triazolam. 

To reduce the risk of interactions, patients should let all of their doctors know about all of the medicines they use. This list needs to include prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements. The patient's pharmacist should check for potential interactions before dispensing this medication.