Before the advent of muscle relaxant drugs, anesthesia was commonly carried out to provide temporary relief to patients suffering from intense muscle pain. Gradually, in the 16th century, inhabitants of the Amazon basin used “poison-tipped” arrows to inject poison into the muscle that was known to be the reason for the pain hence causing paralysis in that specific region.
This poison came from the curare plant that is found in South America. Curare plant was known to contain tubocurarine that was responsible for the inhibition of the pain by paralyzing the muscle. Later in the early 20th century, this process resulted in being a significant importance for pharmacologist who came up with better techniques for pain relief which are now available in the modern world in the form of muscle relaxers.
Why are muscle relaxants used so commonly today?
According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), lower back pain has become one of the major cause of disability globally. Half of all working American people suffer from back pain and 80 percent of the adult population is known to experience back problem at some point in their lives.
A person with either back or neck pain will consult a Chiropractic surgeon who is likely to prescribe a suitable dosage of muscle relaxants to decrease muscle spasms. Muscle spasm is the involuntary contraction of muscles in a certain area that can cause a significant amount of pain. Sometimes known as cramps, it might occur for various reasons.
What is a muscle relaxant?
Muscle relaxants are known to have a sedative or relaxing property by acting as central nervous system depressants. They themselves do not qualify as being a separate class of drugs, however, there are several medications that can lower the forceful contraction of the muscles.
Although more commonly used for reducing the symptoms of fibromyalgia and lowering back pain, muscle relaxants can be used for a variety of illnesses that cause muscle related problems.
Common muscle relaxant medications include:
- Baclofen- used to treat multiple sclerosis and spine injuries
- Chlorzoxazone- for treating muscle-skeletal problems
- Carisoprodol- commonly treats injuries caused by muscle and bone stiffness
Causes of Muscle Spasm
Overexertion or being in the same position for extended periods of time may contribute towards the contraction of a specific muscle. Muscle cells are likely to be deprived of energy and fluids in that state resulting in a forceful contraction.
Often athletes involved in strenuous exercise may overuse their muscles putting a great amount of strain on the used muscles. The situation is likely to intensify in hot, humid weather where a person may develop heat cramps due to severe exhaustion. Therefore, you might come across athletes who work out in excessive heat replenishing themselves with plenty amount of water to avoid dehydration and heat cramps.
Moreover, physically demanding work that is not carried out routinely may also cause spasms. This is because muscles are not used to that intense amount of work and may require time where for adjusting themselves. Meanwhile causing a huge amount of pain for a short period of time. It is often advised that common work like lifting a heavyweight or shoveling the snow etc may be carried out by someone who is used to performing these sorts of physical work.
People diagnosed with having kidney stones in their body might find that passing of the kidney stones through the urinary tract may exert an extra amount of pressure on the muscles lined on the walls of the ureter. This may result in spasms.
Finally, women are likely to face menstrual cramps on their first and second day of the cycle due to the contraction of muscles of the uterus as well as the passing of the blood through the cervix.
Natural Muscle Relaxers
Synthetic Muscle Relaxants can be easily found at any drug store often without prescription which can subject the person to its abuse. The scientific muscle relaxers though maybe impactful are not without their side effect which can be substantial depending upon its usage. According to WebMD, addiction to Carisoprodol can be utterly dangerous as it contains the tranquilizer meprobamate which people often tend to abuse to make themselves feel relaxed.
Other short-term side effects of taking muscle relaxants include:
- Decreased Blood Pressure
On a longer-term basis, these synthetic drugs are likely to interfere with the central nervous system of the body that can be particularly dangerous for the person as it may affect coordination and sensitivity. Patients who abused Carisoprodol were reported to have “brain fog” which is the inability to memorize things, poor concentration and mental clarity.
However on the contrary side of the story, fortunately, there are natural muscle relaxers available which are unlikely to result in any major health complication. Massages, a variety of oils and other home-based remedies can be equally beneficial as synthetic drugs.
Following are some of the natural ways of reducing muscle contraction and spasms:
- Arnica Oil: Can be found in the form of oil, cream or ointment, this particular oil contains thymol which acts as a vasodilator, aiding the transport of blood capillaries in the injured area. It also stimulates the production of white blood cells to disperse the trapped fluid surrounding the bruised region. Arnica Oil is known to be one of the best remedies when it comes to dealing with the inflammatory problems
- Chiropractic adjustments: The benefits of this drug and surgery free technique can be extended to cure a significant amount of muscle-skeletal complications including arthritis, headaches, arthritis, neck pains. Some medical scientists of University of Georgian claim Chiropractic therapy to be more effective than muscle relaxers. Chiropractors mainly focus on the alignment of spines and different muscles of the body helping them regain shape.
- Cannabinoids: This natural substance stimulates receptors in the body to send signals to the central nervous system to produce a pharmacologic and a soothing effect on the muscle tissues. It is often taken to treat symptoms of fibromyalgia. However, the biggest drawback of Cannabinoids is the issue of illegality and hence wide scale unavailability as some people tend to abuse cannabinoids for recreational purpose.
- Peppermint oil: It can be highly effective when it comes to treating patients suffering from sore muscles and myofascial pain syndrome. Usually comes in the form of carrier oil, it can also be used in the form of lotion and is known to be a highly effective painkiller.
- Cherry Juice: Often recommended to athletes, cherry juice lowers the inflammation and pain usually caused as a result of vigorous exercise. According to PubMed Central, cherry juices can help deal with post-run pain experienced by runners.
Most individuals at some point in their lives will likely experience muscle pain that can be intensified if not dealt with properly. According to a lot of medical studies, back pain has become extremely common among adults becoming one major reason for disability.
Synthetic drugs that relax the muscles, though maybe widely available in the medical stores, have a significant amount of side effects including the chances of abuse. In that case, it becomes pertinent to look for alternatives which fortunately are available in the form of Natural Muscle Relaxers!