The Best Muscle Relaxants For Pain

Back and neck pain are treated with a combination of medications. Learn the best muscle relaxants to help resolve your pain.

Share This Post

Low back pain and neck pain are among the most common types of pain experienced by people at some point in their life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25 percent of all adults in the United States had back pain within the past three months. 

It is also estimated that up to 80 percent of all adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives.

Neck pain is extremely common as well, and affects more than 30 percent of the entire population of the nation.

Depending on the cause, low back and neck pain can either feel like a dull ache or a sharp and shooting pain, and it can be so intense that it can prevent people from doing normal daily activities. 

Causes of back pain can be due to a mechanical injury, congenital defects, degenerative problems that include disc degeneration, and nerve or spinal cord problems. It can also be due to non-spine sources such as kidney stones or fibromyalgia.

If you experience symptoms of back pain that lasts for the duration of a few days up to a few weeks, you have acute back pain.

This type of back pain is usually self-resolving and does not permanently affect functional abilities after it resolves.

Chronic back pain lasts for three months or longer and can result in loss of function to varying degrees. The cause of chronic back pain can be hard to identify and pain often persists even after therapeutic measures like treatment and surgery are attempted.

Chronic neck pain can interfere with living a healthy lifestyle too. In chronic conditions, treatment methods are focused on managing the pain in a way that allows you to continue living normally. 

Back and neck pain are treated with a combination of medications that help resolve the pain, along with physical therapy and exercises that help strengthen muscles.

Skeletal muscle relaxants are one of the most common prescription drugs used to treat pain from muscle spasms and are mainly used for the treatment of acute back and neck pain. 

What are muscle relaxants?

When pain is a result of muscle spasms that arise due to injury, joint pain or other conditions, muscle relaxants can be very effective in relieving the pain.

There are many muscle relaxants for joint pain or injury available on the market, and while most of them work in different ways, all of them relax muscle tightness and reduce stiffness.

In general, muscle relaxers either treat spasms or spasticity. Muscle spasms are a localized musculoskeletal problem, whereas spasticity is caused by a spinal cord or brain injury and causes long-term muscle contraction. 

These are two separate medical conditions that require different types of muscle relaxants.

Many people are not aware that muscle relaxants are not the first line treatment method used to treat back or neck pain.

The non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin are recommended first to relieve pain associated with muscle spasms.

Acetaminophen can also be used to help relieve pain in people who cannot take NSAIDs. If these drugs are ineffective, muscle relaxants can be a good option to relieve pain. 

Here is a guide to the best muscle relaxants for pain and what to expect from each. 


This muscle relaxant, also known as the brand name Flexeril or Amrix, is intended for short-term use for a maximum of two to three weeks at a dose range between 10 mg and 30 mg per day.  It is a popular choice for the treatment of sprains and muscle strain.

Common side effects of this drug include drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth and fatigue. Cyclobenzaprine is one of the most affordable options for muscle relaxants because cheap generic versions are available. Due to its sedative effects, it is usually taken at bedtime.

Depending on the severity of muscle spasms, it can also be taken during the day, but it will limit activity quite a bit.  


Methocarbamol (Robaxin) is used to treat severe muscle spasms and pain. Up to 1,500 mg of this drug can be taken orally every 8 hours for pain relief from acute back or neck pain and it is also administered intravenously at 1000 mg. 

It is generally well tolerated by people who take it and a huge advantage of methocarbamol is that it does not cause as much sedation as other muscle relaxants. Common side effects include dizziness, blurred vision and sedation in some people.

Overall, methocarbamol is a good choice if you are looking for an affordable muscle relaxant that can help pain due to muscle spasms with the least probability of being drowsy. 


Carisoprodol (Soma) is used to treat acute pain due to musculoskeletal reason. The drug is also meant for short term use at 250 to 350 mg doses up to three times a day.

Taking carisoprodol for longer than this duration has not been proven to be effective. Carisoprodol causes several side effects like drowsiness or dizziness, and it can also cause headaches.

The drug is a Schedule IV drug due to its potential for addiction, so it is better for people with a history of substance abuse to choose other muscle relaxants instead of carisoprodol. 


Metaxalone (Skelexin) is considered to be the most well-tolerated muscle relaxant available. It is usually taken three times a day at a dose of 800 mg each.

Clinical studies demonstrated that metaxalone causes the least sedation and fewest side effects while still retaining its efficacy.

Skelexin and generic versions of metaxalone are both quite expensive. Due to this, many insurance companies do not cover the drug. If not for the high cost, metaxalone would one of the most attractive muscle relaxants available. 

Diazepem (Valium) 

The benzodiazepine medications that include Valium are mainly used to treat anxiety, but they are sometimes prescribed for the treatment of acute back or neck pain caused my muscles spasms.

Valium is taken at a dose of 2 to 10 mg up to four times a day, and it works by slowing down brain activity through desensitization of certain brain receptors.

The medication is highly sedating and causes more side effects such as fatigue and weakness of muscles. Additionally, the incidence of addiction to Valium increases as you take it, so it should be avoided if this could be a problem for you.  


Baclofen is used to treat spasticity instead of muscle spasms, unlike the rest of the drugs on the list before this.

It is mainly used to treat spasticity that is caused by multiple sclerosis or a spinal cord injury. The medication can be taken orally or administered intravenously.

While it is effective in providing relief from spasticity, it has a long list of side effects that include drowsiness, dizziness, headache, nausea, hypotension and convulsions.


Like Baclofen, tizanidine (Zanaflex), is another medication used to treat spasticity that is caused by multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy.

Head-to-head clinical studies comparing the efficacy of tizanidine with Baclofen have shown that both drugs work equally well in treating spasticity.

However, tizanidine causes fewer side effects than Baclofen. These mainly include dry mouth, dizziness, weakness and feeling tired. 


Chlorzoxasone (Lorzone), like the other muscle relaxants used to treat muscle spasms, acts on the central nervous system to decrease pain caused by musculoskeletal problems.

Some studies indicate that the drug is not that effective in treating acute low back or neck pain.

This reason, combined with potential side effects of liver toxicity and stomach bleeding, have made chlorzoxasone less frequently used to treat pain due to acute muscle spasms. Other side effects include drowsiness, dizziness and lightheadedness.  


Orphenadrine (Norflex) is not one of the first recommended medications for standard back or neck pain due to a lack of data showing how well it works for this purpose.

However, it is used to treat pain results from muscle spasms in some cases. Orphenadrine is effective for helping with motor control by decreasing trembling in patients with Parkinson’s Disease. 

Which muscle relaxant should you choose?

A valid prescription from a doctor is required to purchase all muscle relaxants on this list. You can discuss your symptoms and concerns about side effects with your doctor to choose a muscle relaxant that is the safe for you, and most likely to help you get relief from your pain.

Insurance plans have different coverage policies on certain muscle relaxants and this can also help you with your selection.

Taking muscle relaxants exactly as directed by your doctor is extremely important. 

Their long-term use can cause more harm than good, as they have been associated with increased tolerance.

Due to this, they are mostly prescribed for acute pain and their use in managing chronic pain is very limited. Most often, muscle relaxants are a component of a combination therapy plan that includes rest, physical therapy and lifestyle changes, if needed.

References, Studies and Sources:

medically reviewed and fact checked
Sesame Care

Find the best price for great doctors and specialists

  • Thousands of doctors and specialists
  • $13,000,000+ saved by patients
  • 95% patient satisfaction
  • 4.3 on TrustPilot

Popular Destinations

Recent Articles

CBD Topical Cream for Blemishes

If you are tired of dealing with sore, spotty skin and it is a problem that you still experience on a daily basis, now is the time to take action that will give you lasting effects. In this article, we will be looking at the different types of skin blemishes and how to effectively treat them using topical CBD cream.

Read More »

Meloxicam Side Effects: What Are They?

People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis deal with daily, chronic pain that can have a serious impact on their quality of life. Rheumatoid arthritis affects more than 1.3 million Americans, including both adults and children, and about one percent of the population worldwide. Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in the United States, affecting approximately ten percent of men and thirteen percent of women aged 60 and older, and is the most common cause of total hip and total knee replacements in the United States. Meloxicam is a medication available for daily management of rheumatoid arthritis in adults and children and osteoarthritis in adults, but it is not without side effects.  There’s a lot to know about meloxicam, including its benefits, risks, uses, and costs, before asking your doctor about the medication.

Read More »

Share On:

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

More To Explore

Inner Knee Pain: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

The inner knee is a joint where the femur meets the tibia. It's one of many joints in your body, and can sometimes be

Aleve vs Ibuprofen: What’s the difference?

We all have muscle aches and pains every once in a while, and sometimes, the pain gets to be enough that we need to

Questions About Pain on the Left Side of My Body

Do you have pain on the left side of your body? You're not alone. The left side of your body is home to many

Cove Migraine Review: Are These Medications Effective?

Cove is a telemedicine company that provides personalized treatment for migraine sufferers, but are their medications effective? We provide you with an honest review.

Meloxicam Side Effects: What Are They?

People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis deal with daily, chronic pain that can have a serious impact on their quality of life.

Aleve vs Advil: What are the Main Differences?

Although Aleve and Advil are available over the counter, they’re not without risk. Recent studies have concluded that approximately 15 percent of American adults

To Take or Not to Take: Osteoarthritis Supplements

Are you one of the over 30 million Americans suffering from osteoarthritis? Or maybe you know someone who is? Do you or someone you

Meloxicam Side Effects: What Are They?

People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis deal with daily, chronic pain that can have a serious impact on their quality of life.

What Do Muscle Relaxers Do?

If you’ve ever struggled with lower back pain, had certain types of surgery, or are affected by certain chronic muscular conditions like multiple sclerosis,

What’s The Best Over the Counter Migraine Medicine?

We’re revealing the best over the counter migraine medicine to help you in your selection. Read on for more details.

Narcan: The Nasal Spray that Could Save Your Life

Opioids (sometimes called narcotics) are a type of medicine that decreases the feelings of pain. Healthcare providers may prescribe opioids to lessen pain from:

New Treatment Option for Acute Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches affect 12% of the population in the United States. During an acute migraine headache, symptoms can get severe enough where it becomes

Ocular Migraine Treatment: What You Need to Know

If you’ve experienced the pain of a migraine, you know how strainful it can be. Find out the best ocular migraine treatment and more

To Take or Not to Take: Osteoarthritis and Supplements

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, sometimes referred to as “wear and tear” and affects over 30 million Americans. There are a variety of

What Is Plantar Fasciitis? The Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, and Treatment Options

Plantar fasciitis is a common foot injury that can cause pain and discomfort. The plantar fascia is a band of connective tissue that runs

Is Hydrocodone an Opiate?

Hydrocodone is an opiate that presents a high risk of abuse and addiction. Commonly prescribed for the short term management of pain, hydrocodone can

Joint Pain Medication: Common Side Effects

Being aware of the potential side effects associated with joint pain medication can help you decide which drug is right for you. Learn more

Hydrocodone vs Oxycodone: The Difference Explained

Hydrocodone and oxycodone are prescription opioid painkillers that are effective medications to treat moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone is more likely to cause side

Gabapentin Side Effects: What Are They?

Gabapentin is in a class all its own when it comes to medications – literally. The medication belongs to a class of drugs named

What are Rebound Headaches?

Rebound headaches, also called medication overuse headaches, can occur if you take certain pain relievers above their recommended dosages. Learn about what causes rebound