Updated: Jul 6
According to the research,
It may be time to reconsider...
Throughout the years, I've personally spoken with DOZENS of individuals who have gone through a spell of low back pain, chronic neck tension, and other issues who were immediately prescribed muscle relaxers from their primary care physician. They didn't like the idea of being on medication, but, that was the only option given, and they were in a lot of pain... so that seemed to be the only solution!
One of my patients said her doctor STRONGLY urged her to take the muscle relaxants; stating that if she didn't, "her muscles would not relax enough and the problem was going to continue to get worse, and worse".
Sounds logical, given that they're called "muscle relaxants"... right?
These scenarios get my head shaking because... her back issues (or anyone's for that matter) were NOT due to a LACK of muscle relaxants, and muscle relaxants are NOT a 'cure'. Sure, they may ease symptoms for the time being (maybe...), but they are not going to correct the true CAUSE of the issue.
Which was exactly my response to her. Which, resonated with her intuition, and with so many others that I talk to.
Safety of Muscle Relaxants
As with ANY pharmaceutical, there are "side-effects". Which, are just effects and are not just random, unexplained, bad-luck type of events.
Muscle relaxants have been on the market for 40+ years. Just in the last decade, the number of prescriptions has more than doubled, with more than 30 million prescriptions written every year in America.
Studies have not even been conclusive when it comes to the effectiveness of muscle relaxants; dating back to 1988 when a randomized, clinical trial showed no difference in effectiveness when compared to an inert placebo. Studies that did show a mild improvement, have never been duplicated to show similar results.
A recent meta-analysis of all relevant research and data showed poor results. When they included unpublished data, the previously accepted benefit of muscle relaxants went from 22%, to just 2%. Which coincided with the findings of another recent compilation of 4 placebo-controlled studies; no benefits were seen amongst the use of the top 7 most popular muscle relaxants when compared to a placebo.
Side Effects Associated with Muscle Relaxers
Sleepiness or grogginess
Light-headedness or fainting
They have the potential to stimulate allergic reactions, and have adverse reactions with other drugs, and can be severely toxic when combined with alcohol.
What mainstream medicine tends to bury:
Lack of Coordination, vision, speech
When compared to a placebo:
50% more total adverse reactions
104% more central nervous system Reactions
Since 2004: 84% increase in involvement in suicide attempts.
These are also drugs that can be easily habit-forming as they can have an addictive chemical component. Not to mention the perception of needing continuous use as underlying issues are not being addressed, so more and more of the medication is required. When it comes to long term use, there are no good studies to show safety or long term effects. General guidelines indicate a maximum duration of use lasting only 1-2 weeks, but a study showed that 44.5% of people taking muscle relaxants were treated for longer than a year. Yikes!
Getting to the Cause
As I've mentioned in many articles, you are far better off doing a proper assessment to figure out what's actually causing those issues, than looking for a 'quick-fix'. If the cause of the problem can be identified, then a proper corrective plan can be devised.
When it comes to back pain and other related issues, I do a thorough consultation, evaluation, and assessment to identify underlying structural and dysfunctional issues that can lead to imbalances, compensations, joint and disc issues, and of course nerve system stress; all primary contributors to pain and other symptoms.
Specific adjustments, coupled with the right pre/post adjustment corrective exercises, will to restore proper balance, function, and alignment to the body; ultimately leads to an overall better functioning system. This then equates to better health.
A common side-effect? Feeling better. Getting out of pain. Getting back to the things you love to do.
Muscle Relaxants vs. Specific Chiropractic Care
Study published by: Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics
Randomized, double-blind, clinical trial
190 Patients who were experiencing low back pain for at least 2-6 weeks.
Results: Chiropractic adjustments were 49% more effective than muscle relents or placebo for reducing pain.
Also found that muscle relaxants were not any more effective than the inert placebo!
References and Resources
Muscle relaxants: Side effects