Approximately 6 million people every year walk, limp or crawl into their doctor’s office looking for relief from a spasm in their back or neck that’s so painful they leave with a prescription for a muscle relaxer.
And while these medications carry risks, they were long ago deemed safe enough for short-term use.
But here’s where that “safe” goes out the window…
According to recent research at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, short-term use is becoming a thing of the past for far too many people. And this is leaving patients vulnerable to higher and higher levels of risks that they may not even know they’re facing.
Long-term use and unsafe drug combos
The Pennsylvania team found that the long-term use of muscle relaxers has “skyrocketed” over the past decade.
To measure national trends in muscle relaxer prescribing, the researchers analyzed data from the office visits of physicians engaged in direct patient care. Specifically, they looked for newly prescribed or continued use of muscle relaxant therapy among patents, along with any additional prescriptions those same patients may have been given.
And to put it plainly, the level of danger the results showed was shocking…
They discovered that while new prescriptions for muscle relaxants had remained steady, the number of office visits for continued muscle relaxant drug therapy tripled — from 8.5 million in 2005 to 24.7 million in 2016.
That’s three times more people taking drugs for long-term use that have only been tested for short-term use.
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Even more worryingly, older adults (a group that is already more vulnerable to health complications) accounted for 22.2 percent of all muscle relaxant visits in 2016, even though this group accounted for just 14.5 percent of the U.S. population.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, an overwhelming 67 percent of the continued muscle relaxant visits were for patients who were also given an opioid!
This goes directly against recommendations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who warns against co-prescribing these medications because of the risk of serious side effects including slowed or difficult breathing and death.
I mean seriously — how unsafe can you get?
Safer options for calming spasms
Clearly, the practice of prescribing muscle relaxants has become increasingly dangerous.
So, what can you do if you’re in pain, with muscles that simply won’t let go, other than put your health at risk by taking one of these prescriptions?
Luckily, there are a number of natural options to help relax your muscles and get you out of pain…
#1 — Chiropractic care
As you may already know, I ran my own chiropractic practice for over 10 years. Because of this, I saw firsthand the power of chiropractic adjustments to naturally overcome pain and spasm and get patients on their feet again — often literally.
#2 — Chamomile
You may only think of chamomile as a tea you drink to help you relax before bedtime, but that relaxation extends beyond your mind to your muscles. Studies show that chamomile raises the levels of an amino acid called glycine which has been proven to ease cramping.
#3 — Vitamin D
If you’re deficient in the sunshine vitamin, muscle spasms can be difficult if not impossible to overcome. In fact, researchers looking into the link between pain and vitamin D status, say, “It is evident that treating vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency is important in the management of chronic neck and back pain and muscle spasm.”
#4 — Cherry juice
Tart cherry juice is another ally in your battle against muscle spasms since studies show that its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers can help ease muscle pain in acute situations.
I recommend drinking the juice before bed since it is also beneficial in increasing melatonin production to help you sleep better.
Editor’s note: Nature’s pharmacy comes well-stocked with remedies for pain. If you suffer from chronic pain and conventional medicine has let you down, or you just want to escape the potential dangers of OTC and prescription drugs, you should read Conquering the Pain: An Alternative Doctor’s Fresh Look at the Newest and Oldest in Alternative Pain Therapies. Click here for a preview!
- Long-term use of muscle relaxants has skyrocketed since 2005 — MedicalXpress
- Efficacy of tart cherry juice in reducing muscle pain during running: a randomized controlled trial — NCBI
- Chamomile Tea: New Evidence Supports Health Benefits — ScienceDaily
- 8 Amazing Things Chamomile Tea Can Do for Your Body — The Daily Meal
- Treating Vitamin D Deficiency and Insufficiency in Chronic Neck and Back Pain and Muscle Spasm: A Case Series — NCBI
- Cherry Juice Supplies Melatonin and Improves Sleep — Natural Medicine Journal