Can You Take a Muscle Relaxer with Ibuprofen for Pain Relief?

Last Updated: May 26, 2024

Dr. Ash Bhatt Reviewed by Dr. Ash Bhatt
0 sources cited

Twenty-nine million Americans reach for over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil (ibuprofen) for pain management. In fact, Advil was the analgesic leading brand in the U.S. in 2019.

But what happens if an Advil pill is not enough and your doctor prescribes a muscle relaxer to address the root cause of your pain? Can you still take Advil on top of a muscle relaxer for extra relief? While both medications aim to ease pain, they work in different ways and may have interactions.

Can you take a muscle relaxer with ibuprofen? Read on to learn the answer and explore the benefits and risks of combining these medications.

Muscle Relaxers Interactions

Muscle relaxers, or muscle relaxants, are a diverse group of medications often prescribed to relieve muscle spasms, tension, and associated pain.

These medications can be incredibly beneficial for individuals suffering from conditions like back pain, neck pain, or other musculoskeletal issues. However, like all medications, muscle relaxers come with potential interactions and side effects, mainly when used in combination with other drugs.

Combining muscle relaxers with opioids, benzodiazepines, or alcohol can significantly increase the risk of:

  • Enhanced sedative effects and respiratory depression
  • Increased risk of serotonin syndrome
  • Drowsiness,
  • Impaired coordination
  • Confusion
  • Coma
  • Death

However, a notable concern is the interaction between muscle relaxers and over-the-counter (OTC) medications like ibuprofen, an FDA-approved nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) with pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

Despite its widespread use for pain relief and anti-inflammatory effects, combining ibuprofen with other drugs can be dangerously misleading.

Can You Take Muscle Relaxers and Ibuprofen Together?

The foremost point is that research on this interaction is limited, making it potentially risky due to the unpredictability of outcomes. On the other hand, this combination offers little therapeutic benefits.

While it’s not precisely contraindicated, let’s see why combining a muscle relaxer with Ibuprofen may not be the best idea:

High Doses of Muscle Relaxants and NSAIDs, Higher Adverse Effects

A study in India examined the shared effect of muscle relaxants and painkillers for low back pain and found that high doses of both NSAIDs and muscle relaxants are required to achieve the best results.

However, at these high doses, NSAIDs can lead to stomach issues, and muscle relaxants that act on the central nervous system may cause side effects like drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, weakness, and coordination impairment. The treatment was targeted for short-term use in adults and consisted of 500 mg of the muscle relaxant chlorzoxazone and 400 mg of the NSAID ibuprofen.

The coordination impairment is significant, considering drug interactions with muscle relaxants may cause unintentional traumatic injuries that could worsen your existing pain problem, outweighing the potential benefits.

Limited Effectiveness

One study found that adding the muscle relaxer cyclobenzaprine to ibuprofen did not improve analgesia in emergency department patients with acute myofascial strain, and au contraire was associated with a greater prevalence of central nervous system side effects.

Another study indicated that adding ibuprofen to Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) 5 mg provided no additional pain relief compared to taking Flexeril alone.

Recommendations by Health Authorities

The American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians have recommended NSAIDs and acetaminophen as first-line agents for acute low back pain, suggesting muscle relaxants as an alternative treatment option. This treatment recommendation underscores the potential ineffectiveness of a painkiller and muscle relaxant combination.

When A Doctor Would Prescribe a Muscle Relaxant With Ibuprofen?

While it is not a standard first-line treatment, a doctor might prescribe a muscle relaxant with ibuprofen in a few specific scenarios:

  • If you are experiencing severe/chronic pain alongside muscle spasms or tightness
  • After surgery for a shorter recovery
  • If you have tried ibuprofen alone and haven’t found adequate relief
  • If there is a risk of opioid dependence and addiction

It is important to note that this combination is typically prescribed for short-term use only. A study has shown that the pain-relieving effect of muscle relaxants decreases gradually after the first week of treatment.

The benefits of the diclofenac and muscle relaxants combination for pain relief may not outweigh the potential side effects for long-term treatment.

Mixing Muscle Relaxants and Ibuprofen Alternatives Treatments

When dealing with a persistent back or neck spasm that severely limits your ability to move, sleep, or carry out daily activities, finding an effective treatment becomes imperative.

Considering the mixed outcomes of combining muscle relaxants with Ibuprofen, exploring alternative therapeutic options could offer a better approach to managing such spasms, which include:

  • Heat Therapy: Heating pads or hot compresses to the affected area can help relax tense muscles.
  • Physical Therapy: A personalized exercise program to improve flexibility and reduce muscle spasms
  • Massage Therapy: Massage can help loosen tight muscles and improve circulation.
  • Topical Pain Relievers: Creams or gels containing menthol or lidocaine for localized pain relief.

Can You Take Ibuprofen with a Muscle Relaxer? − Final Considerations

While combining muscle relaxers with ibuprofen might seem like a logical approach to pain management, most studies indicate that this combination doesn’t significantly improve pain relief. It might put additional strain on your liver to metabolize a medication that is not providing much benefit.

To maximize your recovery and minimize side effects, your doctor will likely recommend including alternative therapies like physical therapy or heat therapy alongside pain relievers.

Remember that these medications are intended for short-term use only. If you are finding it difficult to stop using medication due to potential dependence, talk to your doctor.

People Also Ask

What medications should not be taken with muscle relaxers?

Avoid combining muscle relaxers with alcohol, sleep medications, or antidepressants. This can dangerously amplify drowsiness and dizziness and impair coordination.

Can you take a muscle relaxer and a pain reliever at the same time?

While some, like ibuprofen, are not contraindicated and do not offer further therapeutic benefits, others (like opioids) can dangerously increase side effects.

Can you take a muscle relaxer with Tylenol?

It’s generally safe to take a muscle relaxer with Tylenol (acetaminophen). However, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice based on your health history.

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Page Sources

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Retrieved on May 21, 2024.

Published on: August 14th, 2019

Updated on: May 26th, 2024


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