Tizanidine belongs to a class of medications called skeletal muscle relaxants. It works by slowing action in the brain and nervous system to allow the muscles to relax. It is used to relieve the spasms and increased muscle tone caused by multiple sclerosis (MS, a disease in which the nerves do not function properly and patients may experience weakness, numbness, loss of muscle coordination and problems with vision, speech, and bladder control), stroke, or brain or spinal injury.
How should this medicine be used?
Tizanidine comes as a tablet and a capsule to take by mouth. It is usually taken consistently either always with or always without food two or three times a day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take tizanidine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Tizanidine capsules may be opened and sprinkled on soft foods such as applesauce. Talk to your doctor before opening the capsules because the effects of the medication when used in this manner may be different than when swallowing the capsule whole.
The medication in the capsule is absorbed differently by the body than the medication in the tablet, so one product cannot be substituted for the other. Each time you have your prescription filled, look at the tablets or capsules in the bottle and make sure that you have received the right product. If you think you received the wrong medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist right away.
Your doctor will probably start you on a low dose of tizanidine and gradually increase your dose, depending on your response to this medication.
Do not stop taking tizanidine without talking to your doctor. If you suddenly stop taking tizanidine, your heart may beat faster and you may have increased blood pressure or tightness in your muscles. Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually.
Can you take tizanidine while pregnant or breastfeeding?
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking tizanidine, call your doctor. The benefit of using this medication in pregnancy should outweigh risk for it to be used (US FDA pregnancy category C)
Teratogenicity was not shown in animal studies in rats and rabbits. At doses up to 8 times the maximum recommended human dose, increased gestation duration was observed in rats. Prenatal and postnatal pup loss and developmental retardation occurred in rats and rabbits and post-implantation loss was increased in rabbits at doses of 1 mg/kg or more. There are no controlled studies in pregnant women.
US FDA pregnancy category C: Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks.
For women who are breastfeeding, it is not known if tizanidine passes into breast milk and causes side effects in a child who is breastfed. Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to tizanidine. Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.