Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

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Got Back Pain? Relax, without Relaxants

Doctors often give muscle relaxants to patients with low back pain (LBP). This study reports on the type of patients who take these drugs. A second part of the study measured how well muscles relaxants return patients to health.

Past studies have shown that muscle relaxants are better than no treatment. However, they don't work as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). Using muscle relaxants together with NSAIDs doesn't seem to give better results than just using the relaxants.

Data collected for the North Carolina Back Pain Project was used in this study. Patients were seen by a medical doctor, nurse, chiropractor, or physician's assistant. Results were measured by asking patients if they were back to doing the activities they did before back pain struck.

The authors report that some types of patients were more likely to take muscle relaxants:

  • Younger patients
  • Female
  • On worker's compensation
  • Treated by a medical doctor
  • History of prior treatment for LBP
  • More likely to have pain down the leg (sciatica)

    Patients with LBP want to get back to daily activities as quickly as possible. Taking muscle relaxants is one way to treat this problem. However, according to this study, back pain patients don't get better any faster by taking muscle relaxants.

    Eric Bernstein, MD, MPH, et al. The Use of Muscle Relaxant Medications in Acute Low Back Pain. In Spine. June 15, 2004. Vol. 29. No. 12. Pp. 1346-1351.


    *Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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