How Do Muscle Relaxers Work?
Muscle relaxers are generally used to treat cases of acute muscle problems. They are also used to relieve muscle spasms and chronic pain. The muscle relaxants influence either the skeletal muscle fibers or the nerves in order to relax muscles which are tight and tense. There are many name brand antispasmodic drugs which work in different ways to relax the muscles. Some muscle relaxers treat acute issues. Meanwhile, others are used to manage more serious disorders and conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and spinal cord injuries. Muscle relaxers can work directly on the spinal cord to relieve pain and spasticity. There are muscle relaxers that produce a sedative effect. They are taken prior to bedtime, and they should not be used before driving. Patients should know the side effects of muscle relaxants because this could influence their choice of muscle relaxer.1
What Are Back Spasms?
Muscle spasms in the back occur for a number of reasons. One reason is that the muscles in the back are protecting themselves from strain. The spasms are a warning. Furthermore, spasms could also indicate the presence of an injury. An underlying condition can cause spasming, and spasms that are consistent over a long period of time indicate an underlying issue. The spasms can range in intensity from mildly annoying to disruptive and painful. Some spasms are more easily visible upon inspection. Degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, herniated disc, and facet joint osteoarthritis can all cause back spasms. When an underlying anatomical problem is the cause, the spasms develop as an instinctual reaction from the muscles to the pain and inflammation of the condition. Once the patient has noticed spasming, they should take note of the intensity and duration. Healthcare providers will need this information.2
Treatment for Back Spasms
The cause of the back spasms determines the treatment method. Prescription muscle relaxers can slow spasms and reduce pain, and they are used for short-term acute pain. Other forms of treatment are cold therapy, anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs), heat therapy, and certain types of exercise. Cold and heat therapy are very different, and they are best used based on the patient’s situation and under the advice of the professionals. NSAIDs reduce inflammation and pain. At first, the patient should rest. Walking is used to keep the muscles from becoming stiff, and it should not be painful to walk. Walking is usually gentle on the back and it promotes blood flow to speed the healing process. Additionally, some light stretching might also be helpful.3
Natural Muscle Relaxers
Natural muscle relaxers are alternatives to prescription and over the counter muscle relaxers. Because a lot of back pain is the result of a minor strain or injury, natural muscle relaxants are often safe solutions. Arnica oil, which also comes in cream and ointment forms, is a topical anti-inflammatory. It reduces pain and promotes blood flow. Cannabis oil has shown to inhibit pain and relieve inflammation in chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia. Some essential oils, such as peppermint and lemongrass, can be diluted and used topically for pain and spasm relief. Massage reduces tension, and it is an ideal form of therapy for chronic muscle spasms. Massage therapy is an effective stress reliever, and stress contributes to tension. In addition to seeking methods of treating pain, patients should avoid certain substances. Alcohol worsens inflammation, and caffeine is dehydrating and can also contribute to inflammation.4
Natural vs. Over the Counter
There are reasons why patients might favor a natural muscle relaxer instead of an over the counter muscle relaxer. Muscle relaxants come with side effects. They are habit-forming. In order to reduce the risk of dependency, the minimum amount of relaxants are prescribed. Other side effects include drowsiness and dizziness, because muscle relaxants depress the central nervous system. Muscle relaxants cannot be taken with alcohol, and they should not be taken with certain other medications and supplements. Patients should make their healthcare provider aware of anything that they take so that the medical professional can warn against any dangerous combinations. Many natural muscle relaxers do not come with these types of side effects. Patients should always be careful about what they put in their body. Muscle relaxers will not always solve the pain. They are just part of a treatment plan that could include other therapies.5
Chiropractic care is another form of natural muscle relaxer, and chiropractors receive a lot of training in treating back pain. The chiropractic adjustment is a natural way to realign the body. Misalignment can cause pain and contribute to slowing the healing process. Poor posture may contribute to misalignment, which in turn leads to pain and inflammation. There are many conditions, both acute and chronic, that chiropractic care can help to treat. This includes muscle spasms. A patient who is experiencing pain needs to communicate this with the chiropractor so that they can handle the body more gently and find the issue. Chiropractors often work with physical therapists and massage therapists to create a treatment plan for the patient. Additionally, chiropractors can also recommend stretches, exercises, and other types of self-care for the patient to try at home. Patients should try these suggestions in order to contribute to their healing.6
Stretches and Yoga For Relief
There are several types of stretches that patients can do to relieve back pain and spasms. Use a foam roller on a painful area to provide additional stretching. Different patients find that different methods work for them. Yoga poses stretch the body and relieve stress, and two of these poses are child’s pose and cat-cow pose. There are many other poses which focus on strengthening the back. Patients can adopt a yoga routine that work for them in the long term, because regular stretching allows the muscles to relax and strengthen. Stronger and more flexible muscles are less prone to injury in the future. Patients who regularly stretch will learn to listen to their bodies and know their own limits better to help prevent further issues.7
Find out more about back stretches and exercises