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Top 8 Muscle Relaxants for Costochondritis

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedApril 1, 2024

Are you experiencing chest pain that seems to be related to muscle spasms? You may be suffering from costochondritis, or inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone or sternum.

In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of costochondritis, as well as the various treatment options available. We will also take a closer look at the top 8 muscle relaxants that can provide relief for this condition.

If you are looking for ways to manage the discomfort of costochondritis, keep reading to learn more about your options.

Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants can help reduce muscle tension and spasms that may occur along with costochondritis. Relaxants are typically available by prescription only. But there are natural remedies you can try. Other therapies include gentle stretching exercises, warm compress, and relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing and meditation). See a healthcare provider to get the correct diagnosis and create a treatment plan.

What Are The Top 8 Muscle Relaxants For Costochondritis?

Muscle relaxants come in different strengths and formulations, including oral tablets, extended-release capsules, and topical creams, to cater to varying medical needs. These medications work in different ways, with some targeting specific neurotransmitters to ease muscle spasms and others focusing on reducing pain perception. Some are faster-acting, some provide longer relief. Your provider will consider all of these factors, including any potential side effects, when choosing the right medication for you.

Cyclobenzaprine, is a commonly prescribed muscle relaxant. It works byblocking nerve impulses (or pain sensations) that are sent to your brain, effectively calming spasms triggered by your central nervous system. This reduces muscle stiffness and improves mobility. Cylobenzaprine is related to tricyclic antidepressants, which may explain some of its side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, and dry mouth. Make sure you follow your doctor’s advice when taking cyclobenzaprine to avoid dependency and withdrawal symptoms.

Methocarbamol is a commonly used muscle relaxant for costochondritis management. It slows down the nervous system activity to relax the body, improving mobility and reducing stiffness. Side effects may include drowsiness, dizziness, and nausea. It's important to communicate with a healthcare provider if any adverse effects occur.

Baclofen targets so-called GABA-B receptors in the central nervous system, particularly the spinal cord, reducing muscle tension and pain. Baclofen is also used to manage symptoms of spastic movement disorders, such as cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis, due to its muscle spasm relief capabilities.

Tizanidine inhibits nerve signals that cause muscle tightening, and aids in muscle relaxation and discomfort. Tizanidine may lower your blood pressure, so talk to your doctor before using it if your blood pressure is on the low side.

Carisoprodol provides rapid symptom relief by disrupting neuronal communication within the brain and spinal cord that controls muscle rigidity. Its fast action makes it helpful in managing acute pain episodes, but it has potential for abuse and dependency.

Diazepam, a benzodiazepine, is used for its dual action as a muscle relaxant and antianxiety. It enhances the effect of GABA, a neurotransmitter that inhibits nerve transmissions in the brain, promoting relaxation and pain relief. Diazepam is used to treat both muscle spasms and anxiety disorders.

Metaxalone suppresses central nervous system activity to relieve muscle stiffness and enhance relaxation. Metaxalone tends to be a safer option for patients taking other medications.

Orphenadrine works by inhibiting nerve impulses responsible for muscle contractions. This action helps reduce spasms and muscle tightness. Orphenadrine is also used to treat Parkinson's disease symptoms.

What Is Costochondritis?

Costochondritis is caused by inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone or sternum.

Symptoms include chest pain, which may be sharp and stabbing, and worsens with movement or deep breaths. The inflammation can lead to tenderness and swelling around the affected area.

Some people may also experience pain that radiates to the back or abdomen. Although the exact cause of costochondritis is not always clear, it can be linked to trauma, overuse, or respiratory infections.

Treatment usually focuses on managing the pain, which may include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and physical therapy to ease discomfort and reduce inflammation.

What Are The Causes Of Costochondritis?

Costochondritis is sometimes caused by muscle tension, muscle spasms, and inflammation in the rib cage area.

Muscle tension and spasms in the chest area can be caused by poor posture, overexertion during exercise, or repetitive strain injuries.

When these muscles become tight or strained, they can pull on the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone, leading to inflammation and chest pain.

Conditions such as fibromyalgia or arthritis can contribute to muscle discomfort and inflammation, making the symptoms of costochondritis worse.

Is Costochondritis Related To Muscle Spasms?

Costochondritis can be associated with muscle spasms and increased muscle tension in the affected area. When muscles surrounding the rib cage become tense or go into spasms, it can aggravate the inflammation in the costosternal or costochondral joints, leading to pain.

Muscle tension and spasms can also restrict your movement and make symptoms of costochondritis worse.

What Are The Symptoms Of Costochondritis?

The symptoms of costochondritis often include sharp muscle pain, chest discomfort, and inflammation in the affected area.

People with costochondritis may experience tenderness and swelling around the ribcage. The pain may worsen when coughing, sneezing, or taking deep breaths, making everyday activities challenging.

The condition can lead to a feeling of tightness or pressure in the chest, often leading to concerns about heart problems.

Is Chest Pain The Only Symptom Of Costochondritis?

While chest pain is a primary symptom, costochondritis can also cause muscle tension and swelling in the rib cage area.

You may feel tenderness or sensitivity in the chest wall, particularly around the breastbone or sternum. It may get worse during physical activity or when taking deep breaths.

Muscle tension and inflammation can create a sensation of pressure or aching in the chest, sometimes accompanied by swelling or redness at the affected area. It is sometimes mistaken for heart problems and should be checked by a healthcare provider.

How Is Costochondritis Diagnosed?

Diagnosing costochondritis typically involves a thorough physical examination by a healthcare provider and may require additional imaging tests.

Your doctor will feel your chest area for tenderness, inflammation, and pain. They’ll ask about your medical history and any recent injuries or activities that could contribute to the chest discomfort.

Based on the findings, the doctor may recommend further tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or blood tests. These tests are used to rule out other potential causes of chest pain and confirm the diagnosis of costochondritis.

What Are The Treatment Options For Costochondritis?

The treatment options for costochondritis typically focus on pain relief and may include the use of muscle relaxants, physical therapy, and other non-invasive interventions.

Muscle relaxants are commonly prescribed to help relieve muscle spasms and discomfort. Physical therapy can improve the strength and flexibility of the chest muscles, aiding in pain management and promoting better posture.

Non-invasive interventions such as heat or ice packs, acupuncture, and relaxation techniques may offer relief. It is important to consult a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on individual needs and medical history.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do muscle relaxants help with costochondritis?

Muscle relaxants work by relaxing the muscles in the affected area, which can help relieve pain and discomfort. Some of them work by blocking nerve impulses that cause muscle spasms, allowing the muscles to relax and reducing inflammation.

Are muscle relaxants safe for long-term use in treating costochondritis?

Muscle relaxants should only be used for short-term relief of costochondritis symptoms. Long-term use can lead to dependency and other potential side effects, such as dizziness, drowsiness, and dry mouth. It is important to consult with a doctor before using muscle relaxants for an extended period.

Can muscle relaxants be used in combination with other medications for costochondritis?

In some cases, muscle relaxants may be prescribed in combination with other medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), to provide more effective relief for costochondritis. However, it is important to consult with a doctor before combining medications to ensure safety and avoid potential interactions.

What are the common side effects of using muscle relaxants for costochondritis?

Common side effects of muscle relaxants may include dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, and blurred vision. In some cases, they may also cause stomach upset, constipation, or difficulty urinating. It is important to consult with a doctor if these side effects persist or become severe.

Can muscle relaxants be used for other conditions besides costochondritis?

While muscle relaxants are primarily used for conditions that cause muscle spasms, they may also be prescribed for other conditions, such as fibromyalgia, back pain, or multiple sclerosis. However, it is important to consult with a doctor before using muscle relaxants for any condition other than costochondritis.