Tizanidine is a short-acting muscle relaxer that’s marketed under the brand name Zanaflex.
It’s used to treat muscle spasms caused by certain conditions such as multiple sclerosis, ALS, or spinal cord injury.
It is also prescribed off-label for certain headache disorders, symptoms of fibromyalgia, and as a sleep aid.
Tizanidine works by blocking nerve impulses that are sent to your brain. If you are suffering from spasms, cramping, and tightness of the muscles, your doctor may prescribe tizanidine.
Tizanidine does not cure these problems, but it may allow other treatment, such as physical therapy, to be more helpful in improving your condition.
Tizanidine is a short-acting medication that you should only take for daily activities that require relief from muscle spasms.
Using too much tizanidine can severely damage your liver, causing liver failure.
Tell your doctor if you have any type of previous injury to your liver. Your doctor will likely check blood levels after a month of use if you fall into this category.
It’s also important to inform your doctor if you have experienced kidney failure.
Call your doctor immediately if you develop dry mouth, dizziness, a strong desire for sleep, or any sign of weakness while taking tizanidine. Your dosage may have to be reduced or discontinued.
You should not drive, use heavy machinery, or do any activity that requires you to be alert while using tizanidine.
If you are scheduled for surgery, let your doctor know you are taking tizanidine.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use, including over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
In older adults, the effects of tizanidine may also last much longer.
Pregnancy and Tizanidine
Tizanidine may be harmful to an unborn baby.
Animal studies have shown an adverse effect, but there are no adequate studies in pregnant women. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or might become pregnant during treatment.
Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breastfeeding.
Tizanidine ‘High’ and Recreational Use
Because of tizanidine’s sedative effects, numerous online and anecdotal reports have suggested that some people abuse the drug for a narcotic-like “high.”
However, tizanidine is not a narcotic.
Take tizandine only as directed by your doctor, and keep this and all other drugs away from children, teenagers, and anyone for whom the drug has not been prescribed.
Tizanidine Side Effects
Tizanidine has some common side effects that should go away with continued use, including:
- Dry mouth
- Tingling sensation in the arms, legs, hands, and feet
- Stomach pain
- Increased muscle spasms
- Back pain
- Light-colored stools
Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away.
Serious Side Effects of Tizanidine
Some side effects of tizanidine can be serious.
If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- Extreme tiredness
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the upper right part of the stomach
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
- Unexplained flu-like symptoms
- Seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist
- Slow heartbeat
- Changes in vision
Let your doctor know if you have any other unusual problems while taking tizanidine.
Let your doctor know about all other medicines and supplements you’re taking before taking tizanidine.
Using tizanidine along with the following medicines is not recommended:
- Acyclovir (Zovirax)
- Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
- Dronedarone (Multaq)
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
- Pimozide (Orap)
- Saquinavir (Invirase)
- Thioridazine (Mellaril)
Food has a complex effect on how tizanidine is absorbed and processed in the body.
Starting at a lower dose and gradually increasing the dose minimizes the risk for adverse effects.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet and take your medicine when you eat.
Alcohol and Tizanidine
Alcohol increases the overall amount of drug in the bloodstream.
You should not drink alcohol while taking Tizanidine.
Tizanidine is available in both capsule and tablet form (2 mg and 4 mg tablets).
The medication in the capsule is absorbed differently by the body than the medication in the tablet, so one product cannot be substituted for the other.
When you have your prescription filled, look at the tablets or capsules in the bottle and make sure that you have received the right product.
Tizanidine also reacts differently depending on whether you take it with food or on an empty stomach, or if you sprinkle the contents of the capsule on food.
The usual starting dose is 2 mg taken by mouth every six to eight hours. A maximum of three doses can be taken in a 24-hour period. Your doctor could increase the strength in 2- to 4-mg steps to help reach the optimum effect and tolerance for your condition.
In order to reduce your risk of side effects, your doctor may direct you to start this medication at a low dose and gradually increase your dose.
Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
Tizanidine may cause you to have withdrawal reactions, especially if it has been used regularly for a long time or in high doses.
Withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, tremor, increased blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tenseness, may occur if you suddenly stop using this medication.
To prevent this from happening, your doctor may reduce your dose gradually to discontinue your use of tizanidine.
Get immediate help or go to an emergency room if you suspect you have taken too much tizanidine.
Symptoms of an overdose include:
- Blurred vision
- Chest pain
- Difficult or troubled breathing
- Dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying position
- Irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
- Severe sleepiness