A spinal cord is a collection of nerves and tissues that your vertebrae hold and protect. It helps in transmitting messages from your body to the brain and vice versa. For instance, pain perception and limb movements are all due to the message sent across your spinal cord.

So, any injury to the spinal cord may hamper many aspects of your daily life. The types of problems and their intensity depends on the location and extent of the damage to the spinal cord.

Muscle spasticity is one of the problems associated with spinal cord injury. In such cases, the doctor may prescribe Baclofen to manage it.

The article talks about spinal cord injuries, causes, symptoms, treatment options, and how Baclofen may help.

Spinal Cord Injury or Disease Causes

Spinal cord injuries may be due to damage to the ligaments, vertebrae, or the disks of the spinal cord.

Some common causes of spinal cord injuries include:

  • Falls
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Violent encounters, including knife wounds and gunshots
  • Diseases such as cancer and arthritis
  • Recreation and sports injuries
  • Alcohol
  • Electrical accidents
  • Diving into shallow water and hitting the bottom
  • Falling from a height

Besides, some factors may increase your risk of spinal cord injuries, such as:

  • Being male
  • Being between 16-30 years or older than 65
  • Having a joint or a bone disorder
  • Engaging in a risky behavior

Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms depend on the location and extent of the spinal cord injury.

Common ones include:

  • Altered sensation or complete loss of sensation
  • Loss of movements
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Muscle spasms or exaggerated reflex activities
  • Changes in sexual sensitivity and function
  • An intense stinging sensation or pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inability to move hands and legs
  • Pain or pressure sensation in the back
  • Headache
  • Unconsciousness
  • Unnatural head positioning

Some emergency signs and symptoms include:

  • Incoordination, weakness, or paralysis of a body part
  • Extreme pain in the head, neck, or back
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Tingling, numbness, or loss of sensation in the fingers, hands, toes, or feet
  • Impaired breathing
  • Difficulty in walking and balancing
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If anyone sustains a spinal cord injury, they may be rushed to see a physician, especially in the presence of emergency signs and symptoms.

Healthcare professionals will run a physical check and may ask for some tests to determine the damage.

Treatment And Medication

While there is no way to reverse the damage caused, many treatment approaches are available, including medications and prostheses to improve nerve function and manage the symptoms.

The initial treatment options include intravenous medicines, surgery, and immobilization.

Ongoing treatment options:

Once the spinal injury is tackled and stabilized, your doctor will aim to prevent secondary problems such as muscle contractures, deconditioning, bowel and bladder problems, blood clots, and respiratory infections.

Some treatment therapies that may help are:

  • Rehabilitation: A recovery team may include a physical therapist, rehab nurse, recreation therapist, rehab psychologist, dietitian, and doctor specializing in physical medicine. They will help to strengthen and maintain redeveloping fine motor skills, existing muscle function, and adapting to daily work. You may also be taught new equipment, skills, and technologies so that you can do activities independently as much as possible.
  • Medications: They may help manage many effects and symptoms of spinal cord injury. They include medicines to control pain, spasticity, and improve sexual functioning and bladder control.

How Does Baclofen Help?

While rehabilitation plays an important role, muscle spasticity after the spinal cord may limit its effectiveness. Baclofen is a muscle relaxant and antispasmodic agent that is commonly used for spasticity associated with spinal cord injury due to its proven efficacy.

It works by combating the release of excitatory chemicals in between the nerve ending, providing pain relief. Baclofen can also affect the calcium channels, preventing spams and twitching.

Besides, Baclofen has a weak permeability to the blood-brain barrier, which allows it to work only at the level of the spine. The medicine also doesn’t cause generalized muscle weakness associated with many other antispasmodics.

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Use and Dosage

Baclofen is available as a solution and tablet to be taken orally. The usual dose is three times a day or to be taken as directed by the physician.

Read the patient information leaflet and take all the precautions as mentioned.

Dose

The ideal adult dose of Baclofen for muscle spasms or pain is between 5-20 mg three times a day. Your doctor may increase the dose gradually every three days if required.

The maximum dose is 80 mg per day, taken as four doses of 20 mg.

The use of the medicine is not studied in children below 12 years of age and thus shouldn’t be used by them.

The dosage and the drug form may vary with age, weight, the severity of symptoms, and the existing medical condition of an individual. Therefore, please take this combination as recommended by your doctor.

Some other things to note are:

  • Baclofen can be used for both the short-term or long-term. Take medicine as advised and follow all the instructions carefully
  • Do not stop taking medicine suddenly or lower the dose on your own
  • Do not take a higher dose or longer than is advised

Some symptoms of overdose include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Breathlessness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Being unconscious for a long time (coma)
  • Seizures

If You Miss the Dose

  • If you happen to miss a dose of Baclofen, take the missed dose as soon as you remember.
  • However, if it is almost time for the next dose, do not take the missed dose and continue with your next scheduled dose.
  • Do not take a double dose to compensate for the missed dose.

Precautions

Inform your physician if you have the following conditions before starting Baclofen:

  • Severe liver or kidney disorders
  • Psychosis or mental illness
  • Nervous system problems
  • Blood clot or stroke
  • Epilepsy
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Talk to your doctor before taking Baclofen if:

  • You are taking any other medication, are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy.
  • You are allergic to Baclofen or any of its ingredients or have any other allergies.
  • You are allergic to any other medication.
  • You are taking any other drugs, over-the-counter medicines, herbal products, or nutritional supplements.

Side effects

More common side effects include:

  • Constipation
  • Confusion
  • Increased urge to urinate
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trembling, clumsiness, unsteadiness, or other muscle problems
  • False sense of well being
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Swelling of the ankles
  • Unusual excitement
  • Stomach or abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Tingling numbness of feet or hands
  • Stuffy nose
  • Weight gain
  • Unexplained muscle stiffness
  • Speech problems such as slurred speech

Rare side effects include:

  • Chest pain
  • Mood changes or depression
  • Hearing or seeing things that are not present
  • Dark or bloody urine
  • Fainting
  • Skin itching or rash
  • Buzzing or ringing in the ears

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. Please consult your doctor to know more about other possible side effects.

Interactions

Besides, certain medicines may interfere with their working and thus might not be safe to take them together. Some of them are:

  • Sleeping pills
  • Medicines for anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder
  • Opioid medicines
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Seizure medication
  • Sleeping pills
  • Hypertensive

This may not be a comprehensive list, and other drugs may interact with Baclofen. Please inform your doctor if you are taking any of the medicines listed above.

Other Precautions

Besides, this medicine may cause drowsiness. So, avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while on Baclofen. Alcohol may enhance the effect of drowsiness, and its use should thus be avoided while taking this medicine.


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