When people have issues with chronic pain, muscles often become tight, which can easily worsen the pain.
Tight muscles can also cause legs, arms or other muscles to ache, which can worsen how someone with fibromyalgia feels because they have to deal with an aching body nearly every day.
Tight muscles can also cause knots to develop over tender areas that when touched can cause tremendous pain for some fibromyalgia sufferers. One way to help get muscles loose is to take prescription muscle relaxants.
Muscle Twitching with Fibromyalgia
People with fibromyalgia not only deal with sore, aching muscles, but they may have muscles that twitch as well.
Muscle twitches occur when the brain tells the muscles to move, even though you may be sitting or lying still. When this occurs, which is often at night, it often disturbs sleep or keeps people awake.
One cause of tense muscles and muscle twitching is stress and anxiety. Muscles tend to tense when people are under a great deal of stress, which can be caused by dealing with fibromyalgia on a daily basis, on top of work and/or family stress. Anxiety often causes the body to tense as well, which worsens muscle pain and twitching.
Twitching muscles can be treated to help reduce or stop it altogether. If the problem is severe, doctors will usually prescribe a muscle relaxant or an anti-spasmodic medication.
The medication your doctor prescribes will depend on what your doctor thinks is causing the problem.
Types of Muscle Relaxants
Some muscle relaxants work to reduce pain as well as loosen tight muscles, but not all muscle relaxants work in the same way.
Muscle relaxants vary greatly from each other, so some of them may work better than others to help reduce pain and loosen muscles for people with fibromyalgia.
Most doctors begin patients with the lowest dose possible to keep them from feeling sleepy during the daytime.
However, a drug can work differently for each person who takes it, so doctors may adjust the dosage or change the medication if a muscle relaxant doesn’t work for one of their patients.
Some of the lightest sedating muscle relaxants include:
- Metaxalone, which is sold under the brand name Skelaxin. The recommended beginning dosage is 200 mg.
- Tizanidine, sold as Zanaflex, has a recommended beginning dosage of 1 mg. It comes in a 4 mg tablet that is scored two ways in order for it to be divided correctly.
Muscle relaxants that are considered to be benzodiazepines include:
- Clonazepam, which is sold as Klonopin, has a recommended beginning dosage of .25 mg.
- Diazepam, or Valium, has a dosage recommendation of 1 mg.
- Alprazolam, or Xanax, has a recommended beginning dosage of .125 mg.
- Benzodiazepines are used for many purposes, including treating anxiety, depression, insomnia and as a muscle relaxant.
Some of the most heavily sedating muscle relaxants are:
- Cyclobenzaprine, which is sold as the brand name Flexeril. The beginning dosage recommendation is 5 mg.
- Baclofen, also known as Lioresal, also has a recommended dosage of 5 mg.
Along with loosening tight muscles, these drugs can help reduce pain and restless leg movements that often accompany fibromyalgia.
As a result, many people find it easier to sleep when they use these drugs before they go to bed. Taking them can promote a deeper sleep as the patient doesn’t have to deal with pain or restless legs while they are trying to sleep.
How Muscle Relaxants Work
Tight muscles are not only painful, but they can make your body feel stiff and sore. The tendons and ligaments will also feel tight because the surrounding muscle tissue is squeezing them when they are tense.
While using topical ointments can help reduce the pain from tense muscles and help relax them, a prescription muscle relaxant works better for most people with fibromyalgia.
Along with helping muscles loosen up and relax, they also help block pain signals being sent to the brain and they help mask muscle pain.
With less muscle pain, the body can fully relax and allow the sufferer to rest more comfortably at night. It will also be easier to move around and do daily activities with the body more relaxed.
The Side Effects of Muscle Relaxants
Just as with most medications, muscle relaxants have side effects of which those using them should be aware. Along with being addictive, muscle relaxants may have several other physical side effects.
It is important that you follow your doctor’s directions when taking them because they can interact with other medications, which can lead to impaired thinking and functioning.
The side effects of muscle relaxants can range from mild to severe, though the more severe side effects are uncommon.
Some brands of muscle relaxants can leave a bad taste in the mouth or they can cause dry mouth as well for some people who take them.
Some people may also experience upset stomachs, nausea and/or vomiting. The most common side effect that occurs when people take these medications is drowsiness.
While drowsiness is common when taking muscle relaxants, some people may also experience feeling lightheaded, they may be unsteady on their feet or their thinking could be “foggy.”
Impaired thinking, eyesight or decision making can be experienced by some people taking muscle relaxants. People taking them should not drive or operate machinery after they’ve taken a dose of these medications.
When used with other medications, the efficacy of muscle relaxants could be increased, which can make taking them dangerous.
When used with alcohol, the sedative effect can be increased, which can cause dangerous impairment. It is also important to ask your doctor about possible drug interactions if prescribed a muscle relaxant.
These drugs have several benefits for those with fibromyalgia, including a reduction of pain, helping the body to relax and prevent muscle twitches.