What Is Tizanidine Used For? Tizanidine Mechanism of Action

Last Updated: October 11, 2021

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Zanaflex is a relatively common prescription drug with the generic name Tizanidine. It is FDA-approved for the management and treatment of various types of spasticity, including those caused by health conditions such as multiple sclerosis, acquired brain injury, or spinal cord injury.

Zanaflex also has off-label uses for conditions such as migraine headaches and insomnia. It can also be useful as an anticonvulsant. With all of these uses, it is important to be completely clear about the required dosage information for the medication before attempting to use it.

Over the past few years, Zanaflex has enjoyed a spike in popularity in the healthcare scene. About 1.1 million patients were treated with it in 2013, and by the year 2019, that number doubled. The number of total prescriptions also rose from 5.1 million to 8.7 million within that time. As of 2019, this was the 92 most prescribed drug in the country, up from 136 in the year 2013.

Many people are looking to understand what Zanaflex is, and how it works in their bodies. It is also important to understand how the doses differ based on the treated condition. The information in this text is best treated for research-purpose only, as advice and a prescription from a qualified doctor should be the only way by which one uses this medication.

On that note, the text describes the possible Zanaflex use cases, along with a view on the mechanism of action. It also shows an overview of how long it takes for Tizanidine to work, and related questions are covered for a better understanding of how effective the medicine is.

How Does Zanaflex Work?

Zanaflex is classified as a type of central alpha-2-adrenergic agonist. The product is primarily indicated for managing and relieving a clinical symptom known as spasticity. This is why it is mainly classified as a muscle relaxant medication.

Patients need to understand how Zanaflex works. The action of this central alpha-2-adrenergic agonist causes pain sensations to be blocked. These are essentially nerve impulses that the body sends to the brain. Once the brain receives the nerve impulse, it signals the presence of pain sensations. By blocking these sensations, the person would gain temporary relief from the pain that they experience.

This is a short-acting muscle relaxant drug. This means its effects can only be experienced for a relatively short period of time once the drug has been administered.

Since multiple doses are needed for longer-term effects to maintain the blocking of pain sensations, using Tizanidine for pain can be tricky, and many ask if it is addictive. By getting more details on the mechanism of action, it is easier to understand what Zanaflex is prescribed for.

 

What Is Zanaflex Used For?

There are several reasons why a physician may prescribe Zanaflex to a person.

However, the most important factor to consider here is that even armed with the knowledge of what the drug is used for, one must still be sure to consult a doctor and discuss symptoms with them first before using Zanaflex or any other medication.

Self-medication is extremely dangerous, fatal in some cases, and the only way to make sure that one is receiving the right treatment with the right dosages and prescriptions is to get the information from a qualified healthcare professional. Learn what Zanaflex medicine is used for in this section, by addressing each particular use case separately.

For Back Pain Treanment

One of the most common reasons why Tizanidine for pain is an option is the fact that the medicine is classified as a muscle relaxant. Tizanidine uses in the treatment of back pain is an ideal choice for individuals who complain about pain in their upper and lower back.

Tizanidine for back pain can be effective and assist in blocking pain signals for a certain period of time. The dosage of Tizanidine for back pain will likely be different compared to using the medicine for another purpose, such as Zanaflex for pain in general.

For Multiple Sclerosis

Tizanidine 4mg tablets can be used for multiple sclerosis. This is a painful disorder that can cause several unpleasant symptoms. Similarly, Zanaflex for fibromyalgia is another common way that this medicine helps individuals with chronic diseases.

Tizanidine used for the treatment of multiple sclerosis will only bring temporary relief. Higher doses may sometimes be needed for effective results. For instance, people living with this disorder might find that using Tizanidine for sleep helps to manage the pain.

For Treatment of ALS

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, causes neurons that are in control of voluntary muscles to die. The disease can cause several problems and affect muscles. Muscle stiffness may occur, along with twitching. Some people may also experience pain symptoms. Many people with this disease ask how is Tizanidine used for ALS treatment?

The drug may be useful in patients with ALS  because muscle stiffness could be reduced with the effects that this medicine has on the body.

For Spinal Cord Injuries Treatment

Spinal cord injury can cause both severe pain symptoms and long-term disability. Individuals may be in pain for a long period of time. Regardless of the expected recovery time, this is another question that comes up; how is Tizanidine used for spinal cord injuries?

In such a case, the use of Tizanidine for sleep aid can be considered for the pain-relieving effects that might be able to help the individual with a spinal cord injury sleep better at night.

For Migraines

Zanaflex mechanism of action also makes it an option to consider among people who complain about migraines. Using Tizanidine for migraines will help to block the signaling of pain signals to the brain. This might be able to reduce the occurrence of a migraine.

It is also possible that the use of Tizanidine for migraines or headaches could reduce the severity of these symptoms.

For Muscle Spasms

Muscle pain and related symptoms are often the first thought when asking about Tizanidine used for muscle spasm treatments. A common reason why it is prescribed is to help reduce the occurrence and severity of muscle spasms. This is a primary function of this muscle relaxant drug.

Tizanidine for Anxiety

Anxiety treatment is not one of the primary Tizanidine uses, but the drug can still be useful for managing the condition due to its sedative effects, Like some similar drugs that have these effects on the central nervous system, using Tizanidine for anxiety can help one relax.

Anyone that plans to use Tizanidine for anxiety (on the advice of a doctor) should know that there is a chance of side effects such as dizziness, dry mouth, drowsiness, sleepiness, fatigue, low blood pressure, liver damage, and weakness.

Further Information About Two Key Warnings of Zanaflex Is Provided Below:

  • Low blood pressure: It can cause very low blood pressure that, in turn, leads to fainting or dizziness. The chances are particularly higher if one is already dosing on a medication that lowers blood pressure. In that case, one would have to consult with a doctor and also check blood pressure often.
  • Liver damage: It can also cause liver damage, making it worse in cases where one already has liver disease. In these cases, the doctor would have to monitor how a patient's liver works and decide if the medicine is safe to use.
Doctor is measuring blood pressure

How Long Does Zanaflex Take To Work?

It is important that individuals know how long it will take for the medicine to start working. In most cases, concentrations of the active chemical take one to two hours to reach peak serum value in the system.

This is when the product may be most effective in the majority of people who use the drug. Thus, it is expected that the full effects of Zanaflex can be experienced in about one hour after administration.

The Use of Zanaflex as a Prescription Drug

Zanaflex does provide an effective reduction in certain symptoms associated with muscle spasms and pain. To answer the question, about Tizanidine uses, it is pertinent to mention that some people use the medicine off-label.

Group therapy treatment

Using this medicine stretches beyond knowing Tizanidine uses alone. It is also important to understand that when a dependency develops, there may be a need for an addiction recovery center.

However, understanding what Zanaflex is for includes the knowledge that using the drug according to its indications can yield a safer way of taking advantage of the muscle relaxant properties.

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Page Sources

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Published on: February 19th, 2020

Updated on: October 11th, 2021

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.