Tizanidine and cyclobenzaprine are prescription medications that are used to treat issues that cause muscle tightness and spasms. The drugs’ effects are similar, but they are used for slightly different purposes. They also have slightly different side effects and effective uses in the medical field. Learn more about the effects and respective strengths of tizanidine and cyclobenzaprine.

What Is Tizanidine?

Tizanidine is a prescription drug that falls in the muscle relaxant category. It is used to treat pain and muscle spasticity that is caused by nerve damage. Injuries to the spine or certain diseases like multiple sclerosis can result in nerve damage. Tizanidine can help to stop painful spasms, tension, and cramping in the muscles. This pain relief option offers an alternative to opioids for the long-term management of chronic pain in cases involving nerve damage.

Tizanidine can also relax muscles so that patients can participate in physical therapy and other treatment options. The drug was first approved for medical use in the United States in 1996. It can be purchased only with a prescription under the brand name Zanaflex.

What is Cyclobenzaprine?

Cyclobenzaprine is another prescription drug that’s used for its muscle relaxant effects. The drug is used to treat muscle spasms, and it’s often prescribed alongside physical therapy. It’s generally recommended for the short-term treatment of acute musculoskeletal conditions.

The drug has shown to be effective in the treatment of low back pain, but its effects aren’t ideal for long-term pain management. It has shown to relieve pain in the first two weeks, but its effects become less acute after that. It’s recommended that the drug not be used longer than two weeks or for long-term pain management.

Which is Stronger?

Cyclobenzaprine and tizanidine are almost identical in their strength, considering the appropriate and effective doses that are recommended. Cyclobenzaprine is taken in dosed between 5 and 10 mg (milligrams) three times a day. Tizanidine treatment starts at 2 to 4 mg three times a day and increases to 2 to 4 mg until the desired result is reached. It is recommended that a daily dose of cyclobenzaprine doesn’t exceed 30 mg, while a daily dose of tizanidine shouldn’t exceed 36 mg. Cyclobenzaprine has a half-life of 18 hours, while tizanidine’s half-life is 2.5 hours. That means cyclobenzaprine lasts longer in your system before exiting the body.

Tizanidine and Cyclobenzaprine: How are they Different?

The biggest difference between cyclobenzaprine and tizanidine is short- and long-term use. Unlike tizanidine, cyclobenzaprine isn’t typically used to treat chronic issues like cerebral palsy. Because it only works for acute pain and then shows no signs of efficacy after that, long-term muscle tension and pain management require other treatment.

Cyclobenzaprine is used to treat acute pain that’s caused by injuries. It’s often combined with physical therapy, which may improve strength and mobility before the drug stops being effective. Cyclobenzaprine is also said to have strong effects beyond its use as a muscle relaxant. It can also cause potent sedation, which isn’t ideal for some patients. Tizanidine can also cause side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, and muscle weakness.

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