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Medication for Muscle Tension, Pain, Rigidity and Stiffness

Baclofen is a muscle relaxant and an antispasmodic agent that comes in oral and injectable medication. It is used to treat muscle spasm of skeletal muscles, rigidity, muscle clonus, and pain caused by disorders like multiple sclerosis and injuries that affect the spinal cord and head.

It’s a first-choice treatment for muscle spasm due to spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis. It’s a better option for seniors compared with other muscle relaxants with fewer side effects. Baclofen is FDA-approved for medical use in the US since 1977. It’s one of the most prescribed medications in the US.

What condition does Baclofen treat?

It is used for the relief of muscle tension, pain, rigidity and stiffness due to conditions such as:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Neck or back that causes serious damage to the spine
  • Tumor in the spinal cord
  • Head injury
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Motor neuron disease
  • Other spinal cord disorder
  • Trigeminal neuralgia, a type of chronic pain that affects your face

Baclofen is also used for short-term relief of skeletal muscle pain and spasm associated with short-term painful skeletal and muscle problems. It is used as part of combination therapy.

How do Baclofen works?

  • Baclofen is a muscle relaxant that is chemically related to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a naturally-occurring neurotransmitter in the brain. Nerves use this chemical to transmit messages to and from the brain. GABA released by some nerves decreases the activity of other nerves.
  • Baclofen is believed to work by binding with the receptors in the spinal cord called GABA receptors. This blocks the activity of nerves that controls the contraction and relaxation of the skeletal muscle.

What is the dosage of Baclofen?

  • Your dose will be different from other patients. The amount of medicine and the duration of treatment you take depends on the strength of medicine, your medical condition for which you are using the medicine.
  • The typical starting dose of Baclofen in treating spasticity in an adult is 5 mg three times a day. Your doctor may increase your dose by 5mg every three days based on the response of your treatment. The maximum recommended dose is 80 mg a day in divided doses.
  • The dose for children must be determined by the doctor.
  • The onset of action is achieved in 2 to 3 hours after administration. The average duration of effect in the body is 7 to 12 hours.

How to take Baclofen?

  • Take Baclofen exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take more or less than what is prescribed to you. Your doctor may sometimes change your dose to make sure you get the best benefits from the medicine.
  • Do not use this for longer than the required duration of treatment.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or they get worse, call your doctor.
  • Continue taking Baclofen even if you feel well. Do not stop using this medication suddenly without telling your doctor. Abrupt stopping of Baclofen can cause fever, seizures, muscle stiffness, confusion, and hallucinations. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using this medicine.
  • Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it’s almost time for you to take your next dose, skip the missed one.

What are the precautions in taking Baclofen?

  • Use Baclofen with caution in patients with:
    • Diabetes
    • Depression
    • Epilepsy
    • Stroke
    • Elderly patients
    • Decreased liver and kidney function
    • Manic depression
    • Parkinson’s disease
    • Respiratory disease
    • Difficulty passing of urine because of an increased tone of the sphincter muscle in the urinary bladder
    • Patients suffering from confusion
    • Schizophrenia
    • Psychotic disorders
    • Patients who have previously had peptic ulcer disease
  • Do not use Baclofen among patients with:
    • Peptic ulcer
    • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Baclofen is not recommended for the treatment of skeletal muscle spasms due to stroke, rheumatoid diseases, Parkinson’s disease, and cerebral palsy.
  • This drug will not cure the underlying conditions but may only allow other treatments such as physical therapy to be more helpful in improving the condition.
  • Alcohol consumption with medication is not recommended as it can result in difficulty in concentration and dizziness.
  • It’s not recommended for use by pregnant women unless deemed necessary by the doctor. Discuss with your doctor the risk and benefits you can get out of using Baclofen.
  • Do not take this medicine at a time when you need your muscle tone for safe movement and balance during certain activities.
  • This muscle relaxant can cause unwanted side effects like any other medication. Common side effects include nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, dry mouth, and many more. Rare side effects are unpleasant taste, retention of urine, erectile dysfunction, and abdominal pain.
  • Baclofen may interact with other medications. It is important therefore that you inform your doctor what medicines you are taking including those bought without prescriptions, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
  • This medicine can lower the blood pressure, if taken by patients taking antihypertensive medications, the effect is likely to increase.
  • The use of Baclofen and antidepressant may result in depressing brain functions and muscle weakness. Baclofen may also increase the blood sugar level. Diabetic patients may need to adjust their dose when starting treatment with Baclofen.

Costs of Generic Baclofen vs Lioresal

Baclofen is an inexpensive generic muscle relaxant used to treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury. It’s much cheaper compared with the brand name Lioresal. Baclofen 10 mg cost $0.28 per unit price or $28 for 100 tabs. While the brand name Lioresal cost $146.51 for 100 tabs or $1.47 per unit price.

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