Baclofen vs. Flexeril: Which Muscle Relaxer is the Strongest?

Last Updated: June 9, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

What stands behind the best muscle relaxer? Proven and long term efficacy, minimal adverse effects are essential for a medication to be considered as the best one. This comparison deals with two powerful muscle relaxants Baclofen and Flexeril which have different indications. Baclofen vs. Flexeril comparison has to be made to provide a clear picture of the two drugs, their use cases, efficacy, side effects, dosage, and other necessary details.

What are These Drugs Known to Treat?

Doctor is prescribing medication to patientBaclofen (Lioresal, Gablofen) is used for managing muscle spasticity in multiple sclerosis. Baclofen drug is an antispastic medication used primarily to treat muscle clonus, pain, rigidity and spasm in muscles in case of multiple sclerosis. It is also indicated in spinal cord problems, treating alcoholism and CNS lesions. There is decreased susceptibility of CNS depression with this antispastic agent.
Flexeril (Cyclobenzaprine) is indicated for treating pain and muscle spasm related to short term skeletal problems and muscle pain. Cyclobenzaprine is a tricyclic antidepressant derivative. It acts on the brain stem region relieving short term musculoskeletal pain and improves mobility.

Which Muscle Relaxer Has Less Side Effects?

Baclofen adverse effects that are similar to Flexeril include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Constipation

The table below provides the list of the side effects which are different for Flexeril and Baclofen.

What are the side effects of Flexeril that are dissimilar to Baclofen? What are the side effects of Baclofen are dissimilar to Flexeril?
Dry Mouth Vomiting
Blurred Vision Weakness
Abdominal discomfort or pain Seizures
Acid reflux Urinary retention or frequent urge to urinate
Nervousness Insomnia or difficulty in falling asleep
Unpleasant taste Hypotension
Fatigue Respiratory difficulties

Is Baclofen Stronger Than Flexeril?

Male is comparing bottles of Baclofen and FlexerilCyclobenzaprine intakes are expected only for the short term use, and it cannot be taken for longer than 2-3 weeks at a time. Lioresal, on the other hand, can be used long term for individuals having multiple sclerosis. It helps to manage the signs and symptoms effectively.
Although the two are muscle relaxants, their indications are different. The strength of the two depends on the dosage and purpose for which each drug is used, so it is difficult to compare the strength of Baclofen vs. Flexeril.
In the case of multiple sclerosis, Lioresal is the drug of choice. However, for acute muscle pain and relief of spasms, Flexeril remains the primary medication.

Dosages and Price Comparison of Flexeril vs. Baclofen

Below is the comparison table for Baclofen price vs. Flexeril for 5, 7,5 and 10 mg dosage equivalent of the two drugs.

Dose Baclofen Price per Unit Flexeril Price Per Unit
5 mg oral tablet $9.50 for 10 tablets $13.25 for 10 tablets
7.5 mg oral tablet NA $34.50 for 10 tablets
10 mg oral tablet $12 for 10 tablets $9.57 for 3 tablets

These are approximate values only, and they can vary because of the insurance plans and local discount programs. However, the prices of Baclofen 10 mg vs. Flexeril 10 mg indicate that Cyclobenzaprine is a more expensive choice.
On the other hand, while Flexeril is available as oral tablets only, Lioresal can be given intrathecally via Baclofen pump – a device placed surgically inside the body for continuous drug delivery.

Baclofen vs. Flexeril Differences In Use

Differences in the Mechanism of Action

Doctor is working with medical equipmentBoth drugs belong to skeletal muscle relaxants, and both of them are aimed at giving relief from muscle spasms, but Baclofen acts primarily on the spinal cord, and Flexeril acts centrally causing muscle relaxation.
Lioresal is capable of minimizing the severity and frequency of muscle spasms and co-occurring pain. The effect of Baclofen, when taken regularly, is seen quickly within a few days. But in most cases where it is prescribed like when you use Baclofen for back pain, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, and others it has to be taken for a long term.
The efficacy of Flexeril 5 mg tablet, which is the standard dose, given 3 times per day is found to be connected to the sedative effect of the medication. All short term muscle spasms and other related conditions can be treated with Flexeril.

Overdose Possibilities of Baclofen vs. Flexeril

Overdose on Baclofen occurs when the daily dose exceeds 200 mg and triggers neurological effects, delirium, seizures, and coma. The dose needs to be gradually increased and tapered to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Flexeril overdose occurs when it is taken in more significant amounts than its prescribed level of 30 mg per day. Overdose can also happen when they both are mixed with alcohol or other drugs.

Pregnancy Warnings for Baclofen and Flexeril

According to FDA, Lioresal belongs to C pregnancy category. That means the effects of doses of Baclofen medication on pregnant women has not been studied yet. Lioresal is known to cause fetal harm due to animal data. The drug is found in breast milk in traces of lactating mothers taking it orally. There isn’t any information available about Baclofen pregnancy effects when the drug is taken intrathecally.
This applies to Flexeril too.

How Long Does Baclofen Withdrawal Last?

Man looking at his watch on the wristWhen the dose is not reduced gradually, withdrawal symptoms of Baclofen are severe and can be fatal too. The regular dose should then be reduced slowly. If a patient is looking for medicine with a safe and mild withdrawal, Baclofen safer alternatives should be monitored.
Cyclobenzaprine does not exhibit such withdrawal symptoms.

Drug Interactions of Baclofen vs. Flexeril

Baclofen Interactions

When taken along with other drugs, it can cause increased suppression of brain function. Particularly taking tricyclic antidepressants with Lioresal may lead to muscle weakness. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors, if taken with Baclofen, cause lower blood pressure and marked brain function depression. Other drugs to avoid are Opioids, Methadone and Buprenorphine. While taking Lioresal, Alcoholic beverages should be avoided as Baclofen causes drowsiness and dizziness which can become worse with alcohol intake.

Flexeril Interactions

Flexeril should not be taken with Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors or even within 2 weeks of taking a MAOI inhibitor. The adverse effects caused by the combination include convulsions, high fever, and even death. The interaction of Flexeril with alcohol, narcotics, benzodiazepines such as diazepam and lorazepam and barbiturates can slow down the functions of the brain.

Which Drug Will Be The Best Choice?

Baclofen vs. Flexeril comparison reveals in detail the similarities and differences between the two popularly prescribed muscle relaxants. While Baclofen and Flexeril are muscle relaxants, the former is the best choice for long term use, while Flexeril is better for the short term use. Lioresal also will be the better option for the cases of multiple sclerosis, treating alcoholism and spinal cord issues.

Page Sources

  1. Marisa Chau, Veronica Pitt, Denise O'Connor, Russell L Gruen, Jason Wasiak, Ornella Clavisi, Loyal Pattuwage, Kate Phillips, Anneliese Synnot, Interventions for managing skeletal muscle spasticity following traumatic brain injury,
  2. Chou R, Peterson K, Helfand M. Comparative efficacy and safety of skeletal muscle relaxants for spasticity and musculoskeletal conditions: a systematic review,
  3. SHARON SEE, REGINA GINZBURG, Choosing a Skeletal Muscle Relaxant,

Published on: March 4th, 2019

Updated on: June 9th, 2020

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.


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