Tizanidine is a prescription drug that relaxes the muscle temporary when stiffness occurs. Spasms, cramping and numb feeling on the muscles caused by certain injuries to the muscle, spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis are greatly reduced by this drug. It does not cure these medical conditions but make other treatments more effective. It comes in brand name and generic forms. Zanaflex, a common brand name of this drug, comes in various strengths but is more expensive than the generic Tizanidine. It is available as both capsule and tablets. Tizanidine was approved by the FDA for public use in November 1996.
Tizanidine is used to manage spasticity of the skeletal muscle. It is recommended for short term use as it does not cure the muscle problem but helps the actual treatment process. It acts on the alpha2 receptors in the Central Nervous System by stopping the nerve impulses from reaching the muscles responsible for muscle relaxation. Your doctor may also prescribe this medication for other uses like headache, symptoms of fibromyalgia and as a sleeping drug.
Read the instructions on the product label very carefully before taking this drug. If you don’t fully understand anything written on it, tell your doctor. Check the ingredient list for any substance you are allergic to. Take this drug exactly as directed by your doctor. Your dose may be altered by your doctor anytime to give you the best treatment result.
Take tizanidine tablet or capsule orally with a glass of water. The way you take this drug determines how your body will absorb it. You can take the tablet or capsule, with food or on an empty stomach. You may also sprinkle the granulated capsule on the food you are to eat. All these ways lead to different rates at which the drug is absorbed into your body system.
Discuss the best way to take this drug with your doctor. Your doctor will determine how best the form of tizanidine you are taking will be absorbed by your body especially if your dosage is changed or of you are to switch from one form of the drug to another (capsule or tablet). Taking it with food increases the tizanidine in your blood while taking it without food decreases it. If you are taking this drug with food, always do so as switching routines can make the drug less effective and increase side effects. Let your doctor know if you experience any side effects after any change in your medication routine.
The effect of this drug is felt between 1-3 hours of intake. Tizanidine is basically used for the relief of spasms that result from daily activities. Do not stop taking this drug suddenly as withdrawal symptoms may occur. Your doctor will tell you when and how to stop this medication. It is usually a gradual process as your dose is stepped down little by little. Withdrawal symptoms usually occur if you suddenly stop this medication, after taking it regularly for a long time or on high doses. Such symptoms include tensed muscles, increased blood pressure, tremors, anxiety and increased heart rate.
Tizanidine is available in strengths of 2 mg, 4 mg and 6 mg. For muscle spasm an initial dose of 2 mg is taken every 6-8 hours. Three doses can be taken daily. Effect is at its peak an hour or two after intake and can last for 3-6 hours. Dose can be increased from 2-4 mg to be taken every 1-4 hours until satisfactory result is achieved. Do not exceed the maximum single dose of 16 mg or the daily limit of 36 mg (do not take more than 3 dose daily). Exceeding your dosage limit may put you at risk of liver damage. Elderly patients especially those with renal impairment should use this drug with caution. To stop using this drug, reduce your dosage by 2-4 mg daily especially if you have been using high doses or for a prolonged period.
If you miss any dose, take it immediately you remember. If it’s almost time for the next dose, wait and take the next dose as usual. Do not double your next dose because you missed your previous dose. In any case of overdose call your doctor or contact the emergency health centre. Symptoms of overdose include slowed heart rate, shallow breaths, light headedness, confusion, disorientation, drowsiness, weakness and fainting.
Tizanidine Side Effects
Your body may exhibit some symptoms when you start using tizanidine, as it perceives the drug as a foreign substance. However with time these symptoms will fade out, as your body get used to the drug.
Common side effects of tizanidine include:
- Nervous feeling
- Dry mouth or patchy tongue
- Heart burn
- Stomach pain
- Back pain
- More muscle spasm
- Legs, arm and feet tingle
- Profuse sweating
- Light-coloured faeces
Usually these symptoms will stop after you have taken few doses of this drug. However, they may progress to serious side effects which may include the following;
- Severe weakness
- Unusual bruising that may lead to bleeding
- Flu-like symptoms
- Blurred vision
- Yellowish skin or eye
- Decreased heartbeat
- Stomach pain (upper right side)
- Loss of appetite
Contact your doctor as soon as you experience any of these severe side effects.
Tell your doctor about any other drugs, supplements, herbal substances or vitamins you are taking as they might interact with your tizanidine medication. The following drugs interact with this drug; Ciprofloxacin, Dronedarone, Acyclovir, Fluvoxamine, Thioridazine, Saquinavir and Pimozide.
Food greatly affects tizanidine absorption and function in the body. To reduce any chance of side effect, start this medication at a lower dose and gradually up your dose (as directed by your doctor). Let your doctor also decide if it is best for you to take this drug with or without food. Stick to your medication routine to get the best result and minimize the chances of side effect.
Do not take this pill with alcohol. Drug is generally increased by alcohol in the bloodstream and this may not be healthy for you. Patients with decreased liver and kidney function are to take only lower doses of this drug as directed by the doctor.
Tizanidine is rated as category C by the FDA. This implies that this drug has an adverse effect on the foetus if taken by a pregnant woman. The extent of this effect is not yet known. Talk to your doctor if you are planning on getting pregnant or already pregnant, before taking this drug. Your doctor will only recommend this drug for you when pregnant if the benefit outweighs any potential risk to the baby.
If you are breastfeeding, you might have to either stop taking this drug or stop breastfeeding. It is not yet known if the drug pass through breast milk to the baby’s system. Tizanidine is not to be given to children under 18. Older adults should only take low doses under strict medical watch as they are at more risk of side effects.
Pills like this are to be stored in a cool place, away from moisture or extreme temperatures. Make sure the lid of the container is tightly closed. Keep medicine away from children and pets. Dispose unused drug properly through your local disposal agency (do not flush down the toilet).