Skelaxin treats muscle pain and spasms, but it a sedative that has potentially serious side effects.
What is Skelaxin?
Skelaxin (metaxalone) is taken orally, and it is used to relax skeletal muscles and other muscles that control body movement. Its “exact mechanism of action…is unknown”, but it is believed that it might affect the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain) to cause sedation. Skelaxin has been FDA-approved since 1962. Generally, the medication is used in conjunction with physiotherapy for the short-term treatment of painful musculoskeletal conditions. There are many side effects associated with metaxalone, including dizziness and headache, drowsiness, irritability and nervousness, nausea and vomiting, and upset stomach. Sometimes Skelaxin causes anemia, rash, low white blood cell count, jaundice, or allergic reactions. The medication typically starts working within one hour, and “food high in fat content increases the absorption of metaxalone”. People who take this prescription should be aware that it increases the effects of alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines. It is unknown if it is safe to use while nursing. The metaxalone dosage is generally written as Skelaxin 800mg. Usually patients take Skelaxin on an empty stomach, 3-4 times a day, and they should not take more than prescribed.1
Skelaxin Side Effects
A doctor should be consulted if there are mood or mental changes, including confusion, if there is an infection symptom (such as sore throat or fever), if the skin or eyes become yellow (jaundice), in the case of dark urine, or if the patient experiences a pounding, fast heartbeat.2 Patients with anemia, liver, or kidney disease should not take Skelaxin. Pregnant patients should be cautious. The medication could impair thinking and reaction times. It should not be taken with alcohol. Metaxalone users need to be wary if they are also taking allergy or cold medications, narcotics, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, seizure medications, or if they have anxiety or depression.3 Patients with a history of seizures should also be cautious if they take Skelaxin. In addition, if patients are allergic to any of the ingredients of metaxalone, they should avoid the medication. Additional ingredients include “alginic acid, ammonium calcium alginate, B-Rose Liquid, corn starch, and magnesium stearate”.4 The medication can also interfere with some medical tests. Patients need to take the pills as prescribed, for the amount of time and with the Skelaxin dosage recommended. If it is taken with other drugs that cause sleepiness or slow breathing, the side effects may be life-threatening. Metaxalone does not solve the underlying problems behind the pain, and it should be used in conjunction with rest and a treatment program.5 Some people use the prescription to get a Skelaxin high.6
Alternatives to Skelaxin
There are other ways to deal with musculoskeletal issues besides turning to medications such as Skelaxin. Chiropractic care and massage therapy are two such treatments. They both address the underlying cause of the pain without side effects. Chiropractors are not drug dispensers; they use natural methods. Ice or heat may be used to control pain, for example, and the adjustments aim to treat the cause of the problems, rather than mask the root of the issue.7 In a report of chiropractic adjustments vs. muscle relaxants for low back pain, “chiropractic outperforms muscle relaxants by 24%”. Another study reported that “chiropractic is 457% more effective than medicine for chronic low back pain”. Muscle relaxers only had a “moderate success rate defined by a 1-2 decrease in pain scales rated out of 10”, according to another report.8 Medications may block pain receptors in the muscle and brain, but they impact the entire body, not just the problem area. Further, the muscle relaxing medications cause drowsiness, affecting, driving, work, and leisure activities. Massage is a drug-free alternative to impact the muscles directly. Massage can elongate muscles, relax “congested areas”, stretch out the “tendinous ends of muscle tissue” and it can warm the connective tissue. Relaxation results from massage, and “relaxed muscles stop acting on the bones they connect to, allowing tissue between bones to relax”. This therapy works for a longer term than pills, without the side effects.9 There are also some natural alternatives to muscle relaxers, including valerian, rosemary, dong quai, kava root, chamomile, catnip, licorice, white willow, vervain, passiflora, sulfur, magnesium, calcium, and green-lipped mussel oil. One alternative therapy option that could help with muscle pain is acupuncture.10 Acupuncture needles are said to release endorphins, the natural painkillers of the body. This provides stress relief and a reduction in muscle tension. The needles could be put right into a trigger point or adhesion, and it may bring “fresh blood to an areas…to engage the immune system against the foreign objects” so that area can “receive fresh nutrients”. The immune system could speed the healing process and acupuncture is said to be “painless, swift, and relaxing”. Regular acupuncture treatments may eventually eliminate the need for pain and muscle-relaxing medications.11