Tizanidine and baclofen are similar drugs that are used to treat muscle spasms that come as a result of nerve damage. Though the drugs are similar, they do have a few differences that are worth noting. The two drugs have slightly different strength levels, which may be an important factor in which one your doctor may direct you towards. Learn more about tizanidine and baclofen.

What is Tizanidine?

Tizanidine is a muscle relaxant that’s used to relieve muscle tension, spasms, and cramping. It’s often used in the treatment of neurological problems that lead to painful muscle tension like multiple sclerosis, but it can also be used to treat injuries that cause nerve damage. Muscle relaxants offer pain relief without having to use opioids, which can cause uncomfortable side effects and chemical dependency. Tizanidine can also facilitate other treatment options like physical therapy, which would otherwise be too painful or difficult. Tizanidine is sold under the brand name Zanaflex, and it’s been approved for medical use in the U.S. since 1996.

What is Baclofen?

Baclofen is another muscle relaxant that’s used to treat muscle spasms and pain that’s caused by spinal injuries and neurological disorders. People in hospice may also receive baclofen to relieve persistent hiccups and spasms that cause discomfort. Like tizanidine, it’s also a non-narcotic pain reliever that provides an alternative to opioids for specific sources of pain. It can also help facilitate other therapies that may be needed to recover from a spine injury. Baclofen is sold under the brand name Lioresal, and it’s been approved for use in the United States since 1977.

How Strong are They?

Both tizanidine and baclofen are drugs that need a prescription from a doctor in order to use. They have similar strengths, and both may be taken in tablet form. According to appropriate safe dose recommendations, tizanidine is stronger and needs smaller doses than baclofen to be effective. Baclofen often starts at 5 mg, three times per day, and should not exceed 80 mg per day. Tizanidine treatment often starts at 2 mg three to four times per day and should not exceed 36 mg per day. Also, individual doses that exceed 16 mg haven’t been studied.

What is the Difference Between Tizanidine and Baclofen?

Both tizanidine and baclofen have been found to be effective treatment options for multiple sclerosis, injuries, and other causes of muscle tension. Their respective efficacy isn’t significantly different; however, they may have slightly different side effects profiles. In a 1988 study, it was found that baclofen was more likely to cause muscle weakness. While tizanidine could also cause muscle weakness, drowsiness, and dry mouth were more common.

Both drugs are sold in tablet form. Tizanidine can be taken in a capsule, while baclofen can be administered as a spinal injection. This form of administration may provide more powerful effects quickly.

Baclofen has a longer half-life at 6.8 hours than tizanidine at 2.5 hours. That means it takes longer for your body to reduce baclofen to half of its original concentration in your blood. Half-life is often a good indication of the length of time that’s needed between doses and how long the drug will remain effective in your system.

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