Cyclobenzaprine and tizanidine are prescription medications that are used to treat muscle spasticity. Spasticity can refer to muscle spasms, tightness, and contractions that cause pain and soreness. The symptom is common after spinal injuries and in some neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.
Many muscle relaxers like cyclobenzaprine and tizanidine are fairly similar, but their subtle differences could make a difference in their usefulness in treating your needs. One difference is their relative strength. Learn how tizanidine and cyclobenzaprine compare with one another and how strong they are.
What is Cyclobenzaprine?
Cyclobenzaprine is a medication prescribed to people who are experiencing muscle spasticity. It’s usually prescribed for short-term use for therapeutic purposes. It might also be prescribed alongside other therapies, especially physical therapy. Cyclobenzaprine can help to relax muscles and prevent spasms, which can help to avoid severe pain during therapy.
Cyclobenzaprine is sold under the brand name Flexeril, which has been used in the United States since the 1970s. Cyclobenzaprine is one of several muscle relaxants that are used to treat muscle pain and spasms. These medications more directly target pain-causing problems like spasms than general pain relievers like opioids. Therefore, they provide an alternative to opioids that has fewer risks like substance use disorders and uncomfortable side effects like constipation.
What is Tizanidine?
Tizanidine is another muscle relaxer that’s sold under the brand name Zanaflex in the United States. It was first approved for use in 1996 for the treatment of muscle spasms. It’s also used in conjunction with physical therapy to help ease discomfort during treatment. It’s used to treat injuries that cause spasms, but it can also be used to treat neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis. Like cyclobenzaprine, it can come with several common side effects, including dizziness, drowsiness, and muscle weakness.
Which is Stronger?
Tizanidine and cyclobenzaprine have similar strengths. Both drugs are prescribed in tablet form. Treatment often starts at smaller doses and increases over time under the direction of a doctor or pharmacist. Based on their respective doses, tizanidine is slightly stronger. Treatment with tizanidine starts at 2 to 4 milligrams that are taken three times per day. Cyclobenzaprine treatment starts at five to 10 doses up to three times per day. Because tizanidine is effective in a smaller dose, it’s more potent than cyclobenzaprine by a small but significant margin.
How Are They Different?
Both tizanidine and cyclobenzaprine can cause liver damage if they are used for too long in high doses.
However, a study of the long-term use of tizanidine found that it was relatively safe, effective, and well-tolerated.
However, no studies suggest that the long-term use of cyclobenzaprine is safe or effective.
Cyclobenzaprine isn’t useful in treating cerebral palsy. Tizanidine can be used to treat the disorder, but it’s less common than other options.
A 2008 study looked at tizanidine’s effectiveness in treating cerebral palsy in infants.
It said, “it is an ideal treatment for generalized spasticity in cerebral palsy.”