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Adrienne Dellwo

Muscle Relaxer Helps Fibromyalgia Pain & Sleep

By September 23, 2011

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Research Brief

A small study suggests that very low doses of the muscle relaxant cyclobenzaprine, taken at bedtime, may reduce pain, fatigue and depression in people with fibromyalgia.

Researches say the drug appeared to improve the amount of restorative sleep participants got each night. They also say they may have discovered a biomarker to assess the effect of treatment on non-restorative sleep as well as the fatigue and mood symptoms that stem from it.

Cyclobenzaprine is in the brand-name drugs Flexeril and Cycloflex. It's a common muscle relaxer, but it's also closely related to tricyclic antidepressants. The typical dosage range is 5-10 mg, 3 times a day. In this study, participants too a gradually increasing dosage starting at 1 mg and ending with 4 mg, only at bedtime.

Researchers say the drug was well tolerated and no serious side effects or discontinuation problems were reported.

You can find a side-effects list and other information on this drug here: Cyclobenzaprine.

Learn more or join the conversation!


Photo © Adam Gault

September 23, 2011 at 7:15 am
(1) Wendy says:

Unfortunately, it is not strong enough for me and I have to take Robaxin as a muscle relaxant.

September 23, 2011 at 9:37 am
(2) Nancy A. says:

I took Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine), 10 mg at bedtime, for many years until I started on Lyrica 4 years ago. Flexeril did help me sleep and helped my pain somewhat but Lyrica works better for me. I wouldn’t recommend taking Flexeril during the daytime as it’s very sedating. I do take Lyrica during the daytime since I don’t take any other pain relievers anymore.

September 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm
(3) Susan says:

I’m glad u r one of the ones who found help with Lyrica. I thought I was losing my mind on it. Driving down the road and would forget where I was going, etc.
It also made the pain that is not fibro so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed. Tried it twice. For me it was a nightmare. I’ve tried Flexeral but not much help. To sleep I use Trazodone and for pain I use Lorset. I don’t know why. It’s like eating candy. I have never gotten relief and afraid of the stronger drugs. I hate this DISEASE and it continues to get worse. Will talk to my doctor about Cyclobenzaprine. Thank you

September 23, 2011 at 6:56 pm
(4) Isabel says:

I also use Lyrica, I was taking gabapentin, but the lyrica also work better for me. I know now that the pain is always going to be there, but anything to help a bit is wonderful.

September 27, 2011 at 8:40 pm
(5) Kristyn Taylor says:

I went the other way– methocarbomal didn’t work in the slightest, but flexerill is amazingly helpful. Isn’t it weird how meds work so differently in each patient?

September 23, 2011 at 3:46 pm
(6) Kathy says:

Flexeral alters my mood. I get very moody and angry.

September 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm
(7) Spookiesmom says:

My pain doc rx’d this for me recently. What a difference! I sleep all night, my feet stay still, very seldom have pain at night now.

September 23, 2011 at 4:08 pm
(8) Kathy says:

I take robaxin but it doesn’t help with the severe pain. I think I’ll try robaxin during the day and flexeral @ nite. Hopefully it won’t carry the grumpy side effects into my daytime. Thanks for all the info. I learn something each week from this awesome E-mail.

September 23, 2011 at 7:06 pm
(9) Isabel says:

It is just a dream that all our pain will disappear, I have finally come to that realization!!. I have a lot of other things wrong with me too, one of them is a skeletal bone disease, which will put me in a wheelchair sometime, I am 57, have
fibromyalgia, cfs, thyroid problems, so imagine the drugs I am on, one being 90mg of slow release morphine. I am so wanting to garden again. . one of my loves, but alas that is all finished for me. I have 2 arthritises, so pain is chronic. BUT, there is always so many people worse off, I see that a lot, so am grateful just to wake up every morning.

September 23, 2011 at 4:02 pm
(10) linda says:

I have been taking flexeril (5-10mg) at night for years, on and off. It helps me sleep and I’m not getting up as often to urinate. I haven’t been successful in managing my pain (from fibroymalgia, post-polio syndrome, and polymyalgia rheumatica) with meds, as my doc thinks my years of using NSAIDs has contributed to my GERD. I’ve tried other muscle relaxants, like Skelaxin (Metaxalone), but flexeril has always worked best for me. I agree that daytime use is only indicated for severe spasms when it would be helpful if a pill knocked you out.

September 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm
(11) shastadaisy says:

I was wondering if anyone is taking gabapentin? If so, how does it work for you?

September 23, 2011 at 4:35 pm
(12) linda says:

My doc wanted to put me on Lyrica, but the cost was prohibitive. I tried gabapentin as an alternative, which did not make any significant difference in decreasing my pain level. I am currently not taking the gaba. Most days I can handle my chronic pain, but lately the pain is winning.

September 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm
(13) Betty says:

I have been taking Gabapentin for several years, starting with a low dose and working my way up. I would say it has helped my fibro quite a bit. I also take Savella, Effexor along with flexeral at night. I take Ultram with tylenol most days for my pain, and Vicoden or Percocet when needed. They all have helped my fibro. I am by any means NOT cured, but these meds do help.

September 23, 2011 at 6:01 pm
(14) Brenda says:

Have been taking cyclo as needed since 1994; Rx is for 10mg 3x daily but most days I only take one at bedtime. Unlike some other folks, it has no side effects for me; it is not sedating (I know because occasionally I take an extra during the day for pain/muscle spasms), nor does it alter my mood. I also take gabapentin at bedtime; very rarely an extra dose during the day when nerve pain is especially sharp.

For all-over generalized pain I use naproxen, which does a half decent job but is very hard on the stomach (I have GERD). Most nights I need at least half a tab of Halcion (triazolam) plus a mug of chamomile tea to get to sleep.

This discussion shows how individualized symptoms are and how customized our treatments have to be.

September 23, 2011 at 7:16 pm
(15) Donna Bills says:

Otherwise known as Lyrica doesn’t do anything for me at all nothing helps when Fibro hits I have nothing to reach for because I have found nothing to work

September 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm
(16) Isabel says:

To Shastadaisy, I have been on gabapentin for a few years, my wonderful specialist explains all the drugs I am on, as he puts me on them, and it is used by epilectic people, to relax their muscles. I didn’t know how well it was working for me, as I was on lots of other drugs too, at the time, BUT, when lycria came out, I was taken off gabapentin and put on that. It does a similar job, I believe, but does it better. I do think this is true, I get them through the hospital chemist, otherwise the price is VERY high. I do wish you luck. Any little thing to help is a treasure!

September 23, 2011 at 4:44 pm
(17) Sheila says:

I’ve taken Flexeril for years at bedtime. It does seem to help me rest easier, I don’t have restless leg when I take it and my back doesn’t hurt as much in the am when I take it. I tolerate it very well. It’s worth a shot if you have not tried it! It’s inexpensive as well which is a big bonus!

September 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm
(18) Ginny Dudek says:

I used to use “polypharmacy” to manage my fibro. I didn’t feel any better, just drugged. When I saw an alternative and complementary medicine doctor I was told that flexeril has a negative effect on neurotrasmitters, and that it is not a good choice for fibro. I was weaned off of 7 drugs for fibro (including flexeril) and now I only take low dose naltrexone (LDN). http://www.ldnscience.org

September 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm
(19) judy says:

Flexeril does relax soft tissue and is very sedating. It is my understanding that it contains an SSRI. like prozac. I cannot tolerate the side effects, moody and short tempered. Best I have found. after being diagnosed with FMS,CFS, LYME and Enlers Danlos. Go to the Helen Foundation, cost about 6k. They check your blood for food allergies and do a hydrocordisone shower on you for up to 8 weeks. You are closely supervised by a local doc as they are in Arizona. Then you are placed on microdose of hydrocordisone. That manages pain more than anything! You avoid the food allergies, in my case it was wheat. Stupid me went back on wheat and got real sick again. so easy to cruze thu a fast food place and poison yourself with the buns! Check out kratom for pain releif, it is in the coffee family and is used in Moscow to get addicts off of morphine. New drug called Nucenta is an option to oxy. It does not have the potential for abuse. cannot be smoked or snoted or whatever else addicts do. So docs are much more likely to rx it. Go to Dr. Teitelbalms web site as well and check out the SHINE proticol. Go on Samee, Selenium and Omega 3. DO NOT take any omega 6 as it causes inflamation. Read the label and make sure you are taking only omega 3. The Helen Foundation is the creation of a doctor who dicovered hydrocordisone and how it was overly perscibed in the mid 1950s. Overdosed, the patients developed Cushing syndrom. For his wifes RA he found how to fine tune it. The Adrenal glands are very weak in many of these illnesses and thus the body is inflamed. Pres. Kennedy suffered from this. It is call Addisons desease. I have been on this journey since 1988 and have been in pain man. been given an array of toxic junk. i hope this helps someone. I just know that eliminating Wheat, my allergy has dropped my pain level big time. My cheeks are rosey and I honestly am afraid to move as if I did i might start to hurt.That is just fear and I am moving !

September 23, 2011 at 5:11 pm
(20) Donna says:

I tried Flexeril many years ago and it made me feel so suicidal. I would never take it again.

September 23, 2011 at 5:12 pm
(21) AIDAN WALSH says:


September 23, 2011 at 6:17 pm
(22) Jason says:

I took this for years, yes it is sedating even @ 10mg doses an hour before bed, I woke with a hangover effect, very potent med (never drive with it!)

I went in saw another neurologist (I have the best Fibro doc in MA for over 20 years) for some of my complaints.

The Neurologists said to get off this med because it is very “Toxic” and is suppose to be used for “short term use only”.

He also says a lot of doc’s will use this off label for Fibro, but the toxicity? can build up, as well as the FDA does not want this med used for long term.

Please check your facts on the FDA website before researching a medication for Fibro, If you read the usage & warnings you will see it.

These “Researchers” you are talking about are BS! The Flexeral has been for years for Fibro, but it is designed for very short term use, like when you get whiplash from a car accident (which started my Fibro over 20 years ago).

Yes it does help with sleep, but I did not always sleep with it, I have been off it for 2 years, I now take Seroquel 100mg 45 minutes before bed, it works much better, although it is used for BiPolar disorders, so again I am being Prescribed this off label.

Yeah I Tried Lyrica & the other new meds, yea they help with pain completely, but turned me into a complete vegetable, I could not even make a cup of coffee!

I have been Tramadol for pain & Gabapentin only at night for severe neuralgia pain I get, its working out OK, I can function & drive when I have a good day which is once or twice a week.

Hope that helps


September 23, 2011 at 6:31 pm
(23) Nancy says:

I developed fibromyalgia in 1989, finally got the diagnosis in 1995. I take 1 Amitriptyline HCL (generic Elavil ) 100 mg tablet and 1 Citalopram HBR 20 mg tablet at bedtime. The Amytriptyline was started in 1996 and it works! The citalopram was recently prescribed when I was taken off of Zoloft. It seems to be helping with my depression quite well.

For pain and anxiety I take Percocet 5mg twice a day and Valium (which is also a muscle relaxant) 10 mg twice a day.

These 4 meds allow me to function normally. When I get a flare up in my neck and shoulders, I get a few injections of Lidocaine in my tender points, and I have the afflictions under control.

Something else that helps spiritually is offering up all of your pain UNITED with Christ’s suffering to God. This gives it meaning and value and you are not going through meaningless pain and suffering.

September 24, 2011 at 3:38 am
(24) Christina says:

in regards to Citalopram, should be taken in morning cause it keeps one awake nights according to my doctor. There is also an FDA warning about it now not to take high dosis

September 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm
(25) bea says:

For me Flexeril was a stimulant. Made me so hyper I could sleep.
That is listed in side effects.

September 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm
(26) M. in Miami says:

My physiatrist put me on 10 mg. flexeril (easier to spell than the generic name for it!) a few years ago and it really helps. I was already on 25 mg. of amytriptyline a night at that time. My experience is that amytriptyline helped me stay asleep all night (instead of walking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall asleep again), but the flexeril seemed to improve the quality of my sleep so that I woke up a lot more refreshed in the morning. The combination is just fantastic for me.

September 23, 2011 at 7:05 pm
(27) Mary Seroski says:

I take SOMA and love it. I use it mostly at night and have used it for years. I tried the others and nothing works as well as Soma.

September 23, 2011 at 7:57 pm
(28) Sue says:

I have been taking cyclobenzaprine for about 7 years, and it has helped me tremendously. When I run out, I can’t sleep and I ache all over the next day.

September 23, 2011 at 9:52 pm
(29) ddebru01 says:

I’ve been taking Flexeril for 4 yrs or more. I take 1 in the am, 1 in the afternoon and 2 at bedtime. I don’t have any side effects from it and no drowsiness. It got rid of my RLS that I had at all times of day and night. I also take Savella 2x/day, Cymbalta 1x/night, Trazadone 2x/night, Xanax 2x/day and Percocet 3-4/day. I can actually function mentally and physically better through the day and rest through the night. The only med that makes me drowsy is the Xanax. I’m very grateful for the Flexeril, I can actually sit through a movie at the theatre and no body spasms at bedtime.

September 25, 2011 at 5:23 pm
(30) Katherine says:

Wow, that is a lot of pills! Have you spoken to the pharmacist about the mixing these together? If an MD wanted to prescribe me all of these ‘at the same time’ I would seek out another MD or at least talk w/ a pharma. I don’t know what you have been diagnosed with nor am I more educated than an MD, but this combo scares me a bit.

September 23, 2011 at 10:09 pm
(31) Jenny says:

I’ve been taking 10 mg of flexeril at bedtime as part of my evening routine for about a year now. I think that, along with magnesium, the flexeril has helped me break out of the muscle-tension pattern that was at the root of much of my pain.

September 24, 2011 at 12:12 am
(32) Ginny McCluskey says:

I have taken 10 mg. of Cyclobenzaprine for quite a while now and it really helps me sleep better. There have been times, rarely though, where I took 20 mg. when I was having severe muscle spasms, but that can make you a little more tired the next morning. I take Tramadol every 4-6 hours during the day and it helps manage my pain somewhat. Of course I’m never pain-free. I felt entirely too drugged on Lyrica. It really affected my ability to think.

September 24, 2011 at 9:19 am
(33) Debbie says:

In my opinion this muscle relaxer does nothing. I take 10mg in the morning and 10mg at bedtime along with other meds. I don’t take opiates but I take 50 mg of tramadol 3 x a day and clonazapam 3 x day, prozac 20 mg in the am. My muscle spasms are still crazy, my pain is off the charts, I still have to take a sleeping pill every night. Now maybe it is because I work a 40 hr a week job, I have to work have no choice, don’t know what I would do if I didn’t, except maybe get to do some of the things that are good for me that I can’t do now because all I can do is work, like excercise, water excercise, etc.

To me cyclobenzaprine is a joke, sorry folks.

September 24, 2011 at 10:45 pm
(34) Daniel says:

Flexeril causes enormous mood changes in me. I feel outright despondent and incredibly agitated the next day. The WHOLE day. I know this reaction is not uncommon. That stuff is poison for many people. Too dangerous.

I used to take Soma instead, and that worked incredibly well. The problem is that I rely upon the VA to treat my illness and they refuse to prescribe it. Instead, they will only give me the flexeril, which obviously is dangerous. Another case study in uselessness of the VAH. When I have more funds again, I will pay full price for a private doctor so I can be adequately treated. Meanwhile.. not much.

September 25, 2011 at 9:34 am
(35) Katharine says:

I have to take a very low dosage of Flexeral, even at night, because it makes me zonked out all day. I have a 13 year old daughter and need to get her awake in the morning, so that isn’t good. I try not to take it but I probably should because I’ve been waking up between 2 and 4am every night. It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed either. Then it takes hours for me to fall asleep. Usually I’ll just stay up till I get my daughter to school and then take a nap. What fun is that? I can never get anything done during the day.

September 25, 2011 at 4:05 pm
(36) ivanna says:

yo he tomado ciclobenzaprine 10mg, pero solo a la hora de acostarme,y me trabaja bien, al dia siguiente amanezco relajada y duermo bien, lo unico que paso con mucho sueno durante el dia, yo creo que si tomo la mitad de ladosis seria mejor, tambien tomo cymbalta de 30mg y tambien me ayuda a dormir, hago zumba y me mantengo muy activa y caigo rendida,

September 26, 2011 at 8:36 pm
(37) Mel says:

Please read this! I have been on Flexeral for about 15 years; 4mgs. at night.

However, ones body will withdraw from it. I have run out of it for a few days, and the spasms, and cramps were unbelievable! Also, since it acts as a sleep agent I was unable to fall asleep and/or stay asleep.

In my feeble mind this makes sense since it is a muscle relaxant and perhaps your muscles becomes relient upon the drug to keep relaxed.

I also was told it wasn’t addicting. So far, it hasn’t been a problem getting it refilled, but whoe-is-me, if my doc decides I don’t need it any longer!

In my opinion ALL DRUGS are physically addictive. Anti-depressants included. This is what drives me crazy when the federal, state, and/or local governments only goes after pain medication.

Sorry, but I’ve run out of steam… lol

September 26, 2011 at 11:20 pm
(38) Priscilla says:

I agree,,,been taking 5mg at night for the past 8 months…

September 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm
(39) Findyourdrug websearch says:

More than 116 million Americans–about one-third of the population live with chronic pain, according to a new report from the Institute of medicine. This figure is greater than the combined number of people who suffer from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

But despite the large amount of people who experience pain for months or even years, there is very little awareness about it.

Prevention and treatment of chronic pain is commonly “postponed, inaccessible or inadequate” for many racial and ethnic minorities, women and children. “Nor is easy so to receive people from low income and education, cancer patients, seniors, and people who are in the final stage of their lives,” according to ABC News.

Chronic pain costs amount to $365 billion per year, taking into account the costs of treatment and monetary losses resulting in diminished productivity of this disorder, according to the report of the Institute of medicine.

September 27, 2011 at 7:02 pm
(40) Lynette says:

Flexeril was the first medication my doctor prescribed when I first saw him for my pain. I found the medication to be helpful, with only drowsiness as a side effect. Since I wasn’t sleeping well, this was a side effect I was willing to tolerate. My symptoms have improved, dramatically, over the years, so I no longer take this on a regular basis, but I do have my Rx filled in the event I need it.

I have found I have the best results if I take my meds when I first begin to experience the pain, instead of waiting until I ‘need’ the relief. The pain messages are short-circuited if I take the meds early in the process, and I end up taking smaller doses than are required if I wait.

I hope some will find relief with flexeril.

November 2, 2011 at 9:50 pm
(41) OLDMILL says:

Took Flexeril for years. Helped pain a bit, but not sleep unless I had totally overdone it during the day. Then it only helped w/darvocett, benadryl and x tylenol. Eventually it affected my ability to swallow food into my stomach. Stopped flexeril, was able to get food down. If I take it for a few days now when I am desperate, I have the swallowing problem again. something about it messed up the muscles of my esophagus..
Tried gabapenten long before it was approved for Fibro, had major panic attacks. Agreeing w/the writer who is avoiding doctors. I think the meds do more harm than good and should be used VERY cautiously and sparingly.

November 2, 2011 at 9:53 pm
(42) Deborah Helin says:

I’ve been taking Cymbalta for 6 years, and Ambien for almost 7. Both worked, but not all the time. Started taking Lyrica w/the Cymbalta early this year. My doctor then prescribed Tizanidine to help me sleep. Strangely, the Tizanidine actually helps me sleep better than the Ambien did. Have felt and done better these last 6 months than I have in over 6 years!!!

January 5, 2012 at 2:28 am
(43) marijuana pics says:

I’m no longer sure the place you are getting your info, however great topic. I needs to spend some time finding out much more or figuring out more. Thanks for magnificent information I used to be on the lookout for this information for my mission.

March 22, 2014 at 1:07 pm
(44) Tammy says:

fibromyalgia is just a term that people with pain are given now days. My mom lived with it for over 20 years and found out what she really was suffering from. She had not estrogen left in her body and too much testosterone. people should see pain specialists as she did.

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