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Cyclobenzaprine is a muscle relaxant medication. It works by warding off the impulses of the nerves that cause spasms and pain in the skeletal muscle. This drug is typically prescribed for patients who are recovering from muscle injuries such as sprains and strains. It is also used less frequently to treat insomnia and fibromyalgia. The drug is available in generic form and under the brand names Flexeril®, Fexmid®, Amrix®, and Apo-Cyclobenzaprine®.
Though it is clear what cyclobenzaprine does to reduce pain and spasms, studies have tended to be inconclusive as to why it blocks nerve impulses. Some scientists believe that the drug works in similar fashion to drugs that use serotonin to block nerve impulses. Other researchers have found some correlation between the function of the drug and early forms of anti-depressants.
The drug is taken orally via extended-release capsule or tablet. As its effectiveness subsides relatively quickly, most patients receive a prescription for three weeks or less. Depending on the form in which it is prescribed, the pills may be taken anywhere from one to four times a day. In order to get the full time-release benefits of the drug, cyclobenzaprine should not be chewed or crushed. It is best taken with water.
In order to be fully effective, cyclobenzaprine is usually combined with methods such as physical therapy and rest of the injured area. Patients taking the drug are also cautioned to avoid activities that require mental alertness, as the relaxant effect can spread throughout the body. There are also several medications, such as sleeping pills, allergy drugs, and narcotics, that can cause detrimental or dangerous interactions. Alcohol consumption can also increase the risks of taking the drug.
Patients who have an overactive thyroid, congestive heart failure, or a heart rhythm disorder should not take cyclobenzaprine. There are other conditions, such as liver disease, enlarged prostate, and glaucoma, which may increase the risk of taking the drug. A doctor may decide to continue with the administration of the drug, but keep the patient under careful observation until treatment is complete.
The most common side effects of taking cyclobenzaprine are mild and need only be discussed with a doctor if they increase in intensity or do not eventually fade away. Symptoms may include dizziness, drowsiness, and a dry mouth. Some patients have also reported an upset stomach.
There are also several serious potential side effects of taking cyclobenzaprine. These symptoms should receive immediate medical attention. They include chest pain, fever, seizures, and an irregular heart rate. Patients may also notice a severe skin rash, breathing or swallowing problems, and a swollen tongue or face.