Baclofen is a muscle relaxant commonly prescribed for muscle pain and spasms. Your doctor may prescribe the medicine alone or in a combination of other drugs for the same.

If you are prescribed this drug, it is best to know about the medication, how it can help you, side effects, and much more.

Keep reading to know more about muscle pain and spasms and the use of Baclofen.

Muscle Pain & Spasms- Causes

Muscle pain and spasms are relatively common problems affecting about 20% of Canadians. While they may be present in any part of the body, they usually affect feet, arms, abdomen, hands, thighs, and muscles surrounding the rib cage.

Athletes, pregnant women, older adults, and obese people are at a higher risk of muscle pain and spasm than the general population.

Some common causes of muscle pain and spasms are:

  • Overuse of the muscle
  • Skipping cooldowns and warmups
  • Muscle tension
  • Muscle injury

Besides, the mentioned conditions may also result in muscle spasm and pain:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Autoimmune disorders such as dermatomyositis and lupus
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Low potassium levels
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Infections such as polio, flu, or bacterial infections
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Medicines such as ACE inhibitors, statins, or cocaine

Symptoms & Signs

Not all muscle spasms may pain, but they may feel as if they are moving on their own. Sometimes the pain may last for a few seconds, while others may last for days.

Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Sensation of pins and needles
  • A tremor
  • Poor coordination
  • Paralysis
  • Sleep problems
  • Pain in the neck, back, or head
  • Skin numbness
  • Double vision
  • Slow movements

Treatment And Medication

Usually, muscle pain and spasms typically resolve on their own. Keeping yourself hydrated is the first-line home remedy.

The American Osteopathic Association recommends the following for someone with pain:

  • Massaging the affected area gently
  • Using a heating pad
  • Stopping any activity that initiated pain, such as running
  • Stretching the affected muscles gently
  • Applying an ice pack on the affected area

You should consult your doctor in the following cases:

  • Pain that lasts longer than a few days
  • Muscle pain with a rash
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Pain with a tick bite
  • Pain occurring after a change in medicine
  • Muscle pain or spasm with redness and swelling
  • Pain with fever

Moreover, the following symptoms need emergency medical care:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Breathlessness
  • Stiffness of the neck
  • Reduction in urine volume or water retention
  • Fever or vomiting
  • Inability to move the affected area

How Does Baclofen Help?

Baclofen is a muscle relaxant that inhibits the action of chemicals on nerves and the brain responsible for the pain sensation. 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. 

As the bioavailability of 70% to 85% and is thus absorbed rapidly through your stomach and intestines. Its concentration peaks about two to three hours after taking it.

Prescription

Baclofen is a prescription medicine, and thus you will need your doctor’s approval for buying it.

Use & 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

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
  • Bein 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.

Other 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

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.

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.

Final Thoughts

Baclofen is a commonly prescribed medicine for muscle pain and spasm in Canada. It is essential to take medication as prescribed to lower the incidence of undesirable effects.

If you feel Baclofen can help you, discuss it with your doctor during the next visit.


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