Should I use muscle relaxants?

Sometimes 'muscle relaxants' (in the UK often called diazepam or temazepam) are given by GP's to help in the pain management of a back pain episode. A typical 'cocktail' would be an anti-inflammatory drug to combat inflammation along with a pain killer (often a codeine based one) to block pain signals reaching the brain plus a third element - the aforementioned 'muscle relaxant'

    My tip is to be a little cautious about taking 'muscle relaxant' medications. They belong to a class of drugs called anti-anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs). The traditional justification for giving these drugs in back pain episodes went like this;

    • this patient is anxious 
    • anxiety raises muscle tension 
    • muscle tension causes pain 
    • therefore let's give diazepam (etc.)

      But, there are a number of pitfalls with this approach;

      • they can make you feel 'zonked out' the next morning 
      • they don't actually relax muscles at all 
      • but even if they did, muscle tension per se is NOT the primary cause of painful spines!

        Be careful in your use of 'muscle relaxants'!