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Carisoprodol is a powerful medication that reduces back and neck pain by relaxing muscles in the body. By changing the way the brain communicates with different muscle groups, carisoprodol relieves pain associated with muscle tension.

Carisoprodol was developed in 1959. Originally created as an antiseptic, carisoprodol was also found to have potent muscle relaxant properties. While researchers don’t fully understand how carisoprodol works, clinical studies have generally demonstrated it to be a safe medication. It was introduced as an alternative to meprobamate, a muscle relaxant.

Uses of Carisoprodol

Carisoprodol is often used to relieve pain associated with muscle tension. It is commonly prescribed for treating sprains, chronic pain, strains and muscle spasms. It is often paired with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication like aspirin or ibuprofen. It may also be used as part of a physical therapy program to allow for a wider range of movement. 

The recommended dose for carisoprodol is 250 to 350mg up to four times a day. However, different healthcare providers may prescribe higher or lower doses. Since carisoprodol may be less effective the longer it is used, it is usually only prescribed for two to three weeks at a time. 

Once in the body, carisoprodol evolves into meprobamate. Because meprobamate has strong sedative properties, patients taking carisoprodol may feel very sleepy after taking their medication. It’s important to avoid operating heavy machinery after taking carisoprodol. 

Drug Interactions

Carisoprodol should not be taken by patients with a history of porphyria, a blood disease that is passed down through families. In addition, those with a hypersensitivity to carbamate drugs should avoid carisoprodol. Always consult with a doctor about any other medications one may be taking. 

Since carisoprodol is a drug that changes the way the nervous system works, it should not be taken with other psychoactive drugs. This can include alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines, certain antidepressants, barbiturates and some stimulants.

It’s also not recommended to take carisoprodol and meprobamate at the same time. Since carisoprodol changes into meprobamate in the body, taking both at the same time may result in an overdose.

Several studies have shown that carisoprodol can cross the placental barrier in pregnant women. Females who take carisoprodol during their pregnancy may have children with low birth weights, behavioral problems, birth defects and reduced survival rates. Carisoprodol can also be transmitted to a baby through breast milk.

Potential for Abuse

While carisoprodol can be prescribed for different types of pain, it has many side effects that can increase its abuse potential. For example, many patients taking carisoprodol will sometimes experience anxiety and euphoria.

Several studies have shown that monkeys will self-administer carisoprodol when given access to the drug. These effects are similar to barbiturates like barbital, meprobamate and chlordiazepoxide.

As with any drug, speak with a doctor before starting or stopping the use of any medication.