Tizanidine and baclofen are both muscle relaxant medications that are used to treat muscle spasticity. Muscle spasticity is a symptom that causes uncomfortable muscle tension or spasms as a result of certain medical conditions or injuries. These two medications are used in similar settings to treat similar issues. However, there are a few differences that may be relevant factors when you’re looking for the right medication for your needs. Learn more about tizanidine and baclofen and how they compare to one another.
What Is Tizanidine?
Tizanidine is a prescription medication that acts as a muscle relaxant in the body. It helps ease muscle spasms and uncomfortable muscle tension. For that reason, tizanidine may be used to treat injuries that lead to nerve damage and painful spasms, particularly injuries to the spine. The drug is sold under the brand name Zanaflex in the U.S., and it’s been approved for medical use in the country since 1977.
Tizanidine can also be used to treat medical conditions that cause muscle tension and spasticity like multiple sclerosis. For these issues, muscle relaxants like tizanidine represent an important alternative to other pain relief options like opioids. Tizanidine is also used in conjunction with physical therapy, which may be too uncomfortable without the medication.
What Is Baclofen?
Baclofen is another muscle relaxant medication that’s used to treat muscle spasticity. The drug is sold under the brand name Lioresal in the U.S., and it was first approved in 1977. Like tizanidine, it’s also used to treat spasms that are caused by neurological damage because of injuries to the spine. In some circumstances, it can be used to treat discomfort caused by hiccups, especially during end-of-life care. It also helps treat pain caused by muscle spasms without the need for opioids. It may also be prescribed alongside physical therapy.
How Strong Are They?
Tizanidine is slightly stronger than baclofen, though they aren’t extremely different in their appropriate doses. Both medications start with small doses and increase over time. A standard starting dose of baclofen is five milligrams, three times per day. You shouldn’t exceed 80 milligrams in a day. Tizanidane’s starting dose is two milligrams, three to four times per day. Since tizanidine is effective in a slightly smaller dose, that indicates that it’s more potent. Both can be taken in the form of a tablet, but baclofen can be taken as a spinal injection.
How Are They Different?
Tizanidine and baclofen are similar in many ways, including their medical uses and strengths. There isn’t much evidence to suggest that one is more effective than the other in their respective uses. They also share similar side effects, but some studies have shown that baclofen is more likely to cause muscle weakness, though that’s also possible with tizanidine. Tizanidine may be more likely to cause dry mouth and drowsiness. One more significant difference is their half-life, which indicates how long the drug stays in your system. Baclofen has a half-life of 6.8 hours, and tizanidine has a 2.5-hour half-life.