Muscle relaxers, also called muscle relaxants, are a type of medication used to treat muscle spasticity or muscle spasms. Muscle cramps and spasms occur when there are sudden and involuntary contractions of a group of muscles or singular muscle. Some muscle spasms are caused by excess muscle strain, and while some cramps can be caused by temporary muscle fatigue, they can also be caused by chronic conditions. Neck pain, lower back pain, and fibromyalgia all tend to present with cramping. Muscle spasticity occurs when a muscle continuously spasms to the point of tightness, rigidity, or stiffness. This condition can interfere with normal movement, talking, or walking. It is caused by conditions that injure the brain or spinal cord. Muscle relaxers are often necessary to treat these conditions, but it’s important to know the side effects to watch out for.
Dizziness is a common side effect of centrally acting skeletal muscle relaxants (SMRs). A centrally acting SMR is prescribed alongside physical therapy and rest to help with muscle spasm relief. They act on the central nervous system by creating a sedating effect or preventing the nerves from transmitting pain signals to the brain. Because the effects of long-term use aren’t proven, patients shouldn’t use these for longer than two to three weeks. Patients experiencing dizziness might have trouble keeping their balance and get suddenly lightheaded when they stand up. Though dizziness isn’t always a sign of a serious problem, patients should talk to a doctor if it’s interfering with their day-to-day life. They also shouldn’t drive a car or do other potentially dangerous tasks until they’re aware of how the medication affects them. Individuals shouldn’t take muscle relaxants with alcohol or other CNS depressants, as this can lead to worse dizziness and potential coma or death.
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