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Definition of Muscle relaxant

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Muscle relaxant: Muscle relaxant is a term usually used to refer to skeletal muscle relaxants (drugs), which act on the central nervous system (CNS) to relax muscles. These drugs are often prescribed to reduce pain and soreness associated with sprains, strains, or other types of muscle injury. Some examples of commonly prescribed skeletal muscle relaxant medications include carisoprodol (Soma), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), and metaxalone (Skelaxin), which are taken in tablet form. Muscle relaxant drugs are only available by prescription in the U.S.

Other types of muscle relaxant drugs (neuromuscular blocking drugs) are sometimes used during the induction of general anesthesia or during insertion of an endotracheal (ET) tube. These muscle relaxants are given intravenously (through the bloodstream) and act directly on the muscles. Examples of muscle relaxants used during surgical procedures include succinylcholine (Anectine, Sucostrin), atracurium (Tracrium), and pancuronium (Pavulon).

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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