Flexeril and tizanidine are both drugs that are used for their ability to treat muscle spasticity, which is a symptom that causes spasms, stiffness, and pain in muscles. Spasticity can be caused by injuries or by certain neurological problems. Medications like tizanidine and Flexeril can help alleviate pain in a way that facilitates other therapy options like physical therapy. But how do these two medications compare, and which one is stronger?

What is Flexeril?

Flexeril is a common medication that’s used to treat musculoskeletal conditions. It’s generally used as a short term therapeutic medication that lasts for a few weeks. Flexeril is a brand name for a drug called cyclobenzaprine, which is used in the treatment of muscle spasms along with physical therapy. As a supplemental prescription, Flexeril can help to relax muscles and ease pain that would otherwise make physical therapy more difficult or impossible. It comes with a few common side effects, including headache, dizziness, and dry mouth. Muscle relaxers like Flexeril can also cause heart-related side effects like tachycardia, in some cases.

What is Tizanidine?

Tizanidine is also a medication that’s used for its muscle relaxing capabilities. It’s sold under the brand name Zanaflex, and it’s been used in the United States since it was approved in 1996. Like Flexeril, Tizanidine can be used in conjunction with physical therapy to treat muscle spasticity and pain. However, it can also be used to treat muscle spasticity that is caused by neurological issues like multiple sclerosis. Tizanidine can come with a few common side effects that may overlap with Flexeril, including dizziness, drowsiness, muscle weakness, anxiety, depression, and constipation.

Which is Stronger?

According to their respective, appropriate doses, tizanidine may be slightly stronger than Flexeril. Both drugs are generally prescribed in small doses that are gradually increased through treatment. Tizanidine starts at two to four milligrams, up to three times per day. Flexeril starts at five to ten milligrams three times per day. It’s also sold in 15 to 30 mg extended-release doses that are taken once per day.

How are they Different?

Flexeril and tizanidine are in the same class of drugs, and they share many similarities. Both drugs are used for similar purposes and offer similar effectiveness. However, one of the biggest differences between the two is their use in treating neurological disorders. Flexeril is designated for acute musculoskeletal conditions. For instance, spinal injuries can cause muscle spasms and uncomfortable muscle pain.

Flexeril isn’t effective in treating cerebral palsy, which is a congenital disorder that affects brain development. The disorder can cause muscle spasms and movement issues. While Flexeril isn’t effective in treating cerebral palsy, tizanidine might be more useful. A 2008 study looked at the use of the drug in 45 children and said, “it is an ideal treatment for generalized spasticity in cerebral palsy.  Still, a 2004 review found that it had some limited benefits in treating fibromyalgia.

Tizanidine has more pronounced side effects that involve blood pressure and the heart. High doses can cause a drop in blood pressure that leads to lightheadedness, fainting, and arrhythmias. Combining tizanidine can also interact with blood pressure medications to cause hypotension.

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