Muscle relaxers can be useful to treat various ailments including back and muscle injuries. Taking oral medication means that the drug is circulated throughout your body, not just to the site of injury. These medications can affect your body in many ways besides reducing the spasms in your injured muscles. Although muscle relaxers do not directly cause weight gain, the reduced mobility of the injury and the effects of the medications can result in weight gain as a result of decreased activity.
The Uses of Muscle Relaxers
Muscle relaxers are commonly used to treat back pain and other muscle injuries. When a muscle is injured, it twitches and spasms causing pain and more injury to the muscle. Muscle relaxers reduce this reaction to injury by allowing the muscle to stop contracting and start healing. Use of these medications can help you exercise the injured muscles, maintain fitness and prevent weight gain from inactivity.
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Muscle relaxing medications are sedatives; this class of drugs includes carisoprodol, cyclobenzaprine, naproxen and diazepam. Sedatives are central nervous system depressants and act on your body by slowing down brain activity and causing skeletal muscle relaxation. Sedatives such as muscle relaxers can cause drowsiness, impaired thinking and decrease your ability or interest in making good nutrition choices. Older adults are at particular risk for cognitive impairment with these medications and as a result they may experience significant weight gain if the medication is used for a chronic pain condition.
Sedatives and Weight Gain
Muscle relaxers depress your central nervous system and so slows down many of the processes that make your body function. These medications are generally prescribed for a short period of time of five to seven days for acute conditions. Short-term use of these medications can cause a slight weight gain of 2 to 3 lbs. as you reduce your activity to heal from your injury. Long-term use or abuse of these medications can cause more significant weight gain as you continue to experience a decrease in your overall physical activity.
Muscle Relaxers for the Short Term
Muscle relaxers, along with pain medication and physical therapy, are useful short-term treatment for muscle injuries. Following your primary care provider's treatment regimen for your injury will result in faster healing times and little risk of side effects such as weight gain. If the need for longer term treatment with muscle relaxer medication is needed; be aware that there is a risk for weight gain as well as the potential for addiction.