Robaxin vs Baclofen

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For patients experiencing muscle spasms or other types of musculoskeletal pain, certain drugs that work to relax muscles can provide much-needed relief. Robaxin and Baclofen are two such medications prescribed for this purpose. They each impact different areas in the body but both have significant effects on easing muscle tension and discomfort. Robaxin, also known as Methocarbamol, is a central nervous system depressant providing overall sedation while reducing skeletal muscle spasms. On the other hand, Baclofen acts specifically on the spinal cord nerves and decreases the number and severity of muscle spasms caused by specific conditions such as multiple sclerosis. It also alleviates pain associated with these spasms.

What is Robaxin?

Methocarbamol (the generic name for Robaxin) was one of the first muscle relaxants developed to address acute musculoskeletal pain, signifying a significant stride from earlier pain management options. Methocarbamol received FDA approval in 1957. It works by suppressing nerve impulse transmission within the nervous system, effectively "calming" it down and reducing muscle spasm and discomfort. It's commonly prescribed for various types of skeletal muscle spasms.

In contrast, Baclofen is a derivative of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, which allows this drug to have both peripheral and central effects on muscles. While both medications are used as muscle relaxants, they differ significantly in their side effect profiles due to their different mechanisms of action: methocarbamol has fewer CNS-related side effects such as drowsiness or sedation compared with baclofen that has more pronounced effects on these areas.

What conditions is Robaxin approved to treat?

Robaxin and Baclofen are both approved for the treatment of different muscle conditions:

  • Robaxin is used primarily as a short-term adjunct to rest, physical therapy, and other measures for the relief of discomfort associated with acute, painful musculoskeletal conditions.
  • Baclofen is commonly prescribed for spasticity due to multiple sclerosis or spinal cord diseases. It may also be used off-label in some instances to treat hiccups, trismus (lockjaw), and dystonia (a movement disorder).

How does Robaxin help with these illnesses?

Robaxin and Baclofen are both muscle relaxants, but they work in slightly different ways. Robaxin works by depressing the central nervous system, resulting in a sedative effect that helps to relieve muscle spasms. It's not completely understood how Robaxin achieves this effect, but it is believed to interrupt nerve signals sent from the spinal cord to the muscles. On the other hand, Baclofen acts primarily at the spinal level and inhibits reflexes at a lower level of the neurological axis than Robaxin. It specifically targets an area of our nerves that controls the contraction and relaxation of skeletal muscle.

Both drugs are used for relieving symptoms associated with painful musculoskeletal conditions or spasticity from multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries/diseases but their difference in mechanisms may make one more suitable for some patients over others depending on individual health profiles.

What is Baclofen?

Baclofen, sold under the brand name Lioresal among others, is a muscle relaxer and an antispastic agent. It works by inhibiting neurotransmitters in your spinal cord that cause muscles to contract involuntarily. Baclofen was first approved by the FDA in 1977 and has been widely used since then for treating conditions such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury/disease where there is excess muscle tone (spasticity). As Baclofen is not a direct skeletal muscle relaxant, it does not reduce normal muscular strength; instead, it helps to normalize excessive nerve signals which lead to spasticity. Its lack of action on typical skeletal muscles means that its side-effect profile is also different from those of other common muscle relaxants like Robaxin — particularly in that it doesn't typically cause weakness or coordination problems (common side effects with Robaxin). The effect on reducing abnormal neuronal signaling can be beneficial for managing symptoms associated with diseases causing spasticity, especially when patients find limited benefit from conventional skeletal muscle relaxants like Robaxin.

What conditions is Baclofen approved to treat?

Baclofen is an approved medication for the management of:

  • Spasticity from multiple sclerosis
  • Other spinal cord diseases and injuries It's also used in certain cases of trigeminal neuralgia, a severe facial pain disorder. Baclofen works by reducing the severity of muscle spasms and providing relief from pain and increased mobility.

How does Baclofen help with these illnesses?

Baclofen is a type of muscle relaxant and antispastic agent used to treat muscle symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis, including spasm, pain, and stiffness. Unlike Robaxin which primarily works by blocking nerve impulses in the brain that cause sensations of pain, Baclofen functions mainly within the spinal cord, inhibiting both monosynaptic and polysynaptic reflexes at the spinal level. It's thought to accomplish this through hyperpolarization of afferent terminals although actions at supraspinal sites may also occur and contribute to its clinical effect. This results in an alleviation of muscle spasms without a significant reduction in normal muscular function or feeling - something that sets it apart from other commonly prescribed muscle relaxants like Robaxin. Due to its unique mechanism of action, it might be preferred when patients do not respond well to other types of medication or can even be combined with them for more effective relief.

How effective are both Robaxin and Baclofen?

Both methocarbamol (Robaxin) and baclofen have a long history of successfully treating muscle spasticity, with their initial FDA approvals coming just three years apart. As they target different receptors in the central nervous system, they may be prescribed under varying circumstances. The efficacy of both Robaxin and Baclofen in managing symptoms associated with muscle relaxation was directly studied in numerous clinical trials; the two drugs exhibited similar effectiveness as well as promising safety profiles.

A 1996 review on methocarbamol demonstrated that it is effective at alleviating symptoms related to muscle spasms right from the start of treatment. Its side effect profile is considered favorable compared to many other muscle relaxants, and it's generally well-tolerated by all age groups. It has become one of the most frequently prescribed drugs for musculoskeletal disorders due to its reliable results.

Baclofen’s effectiveness was indicated by a 2014 meta-analysis showing that it seems more efficient than placebo in treating conditions like multiple sclerosis-related spasticity, suggesting comparable efficiency when contrasted against various common antispasmodics. Nonetheless, baclofen is often viewed as an alternative treatment option – typically used after first-line treatments have been exhausted or aren't suitable for certain individuals. Significant research surrounding its use involves co-prescribing alongside another relaxant so data verifying its standalone application isn't quite as robust compared to Robaxin's record. However, owing to its unique pharmacological properties, baclofen could be an ideal choice for patients who haven’t responded well enough to other options or need specific side effects avoided such as sedation or addiction potential.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Robaxin typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Robaxin range from 1500–7500 mg/day, typically divided into three to six doses, with studies indicating that a dosage of 1500 mg four times a day is often sufficient for treating muscle spasms in adults. For Baclofen, the initial dose usually starts at 5 mg three times daily and can be increased gradually every three days until it reaches around 40-80 mg/day distributed over three doses for better tolerance. In both cases, a doctor should closely monitor the patient's response and adjust the dosage accordingly. The maximum daily dose for Robaxin is generally not more than 7500mg while Baclofen should not exceed 80mg per day.

At what dose is Baclofen typically prescribed?

Baclofen therapy usually begins with dosages of 5 mg three times a day. The dosage can gradually be increased up to 20 mg, divided into three or four doses throughout the day if needed. For patients with severe spasticity, the maximum dose is typically 80 mg per day divided into four equal doses of 20mg spaced six hours apart. This high dosage may be tested if there is no response at lower dosages after several weeks of treatment. Always remember that increasing the dose should only be done under medical supervision as higher doses might lead to more pronounced side effects.

What are the most common side effects for Robaxin?

Common side effects of Robaxin include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness (somnolence)
  • Upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting
  • Blurred vision or other changes in sight
  • Forgetfulness, memory impairment or confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Stuffy nose (sinusitis)

In comparison, Baclofen may cause:

  • Weakness/fatigue (asthenia)
  • Nausea
  • Constipation rather than diarrhea
  • Headache instead of pharyngitis
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Increased urination instead of vasodilation
  • Dry mouth

It's important to note that not everyone will experience these side effects and they often lessen with time as your body adjusts to the medication. Always consult a healthcare professional if you're experiencing any unwanted symptoms.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Robaxin?

While Robaxin and Baclofen are both medications used to relieve muscle spasms, they also have their own potential side effects. For Robaxin, these may include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Severe dizziness or drowsiness that can lead to accidents
  • Slow heartbeat or a fluttering in your chest
  • A light-headed feeling (like you might pass out)
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements in your eyes, tongue, jaw, neck
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

For Baclofen on the other hand,

  • Signs of an allergic reaction: rash; itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat); severe dizziness; trouble breathing.
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't there)
  • Muscle stiffness -Trouble urinating -Seizures

If you experience any severe symptoms from either medication consult with a healthcare provider immediately.

What are the most common side effects for Baclofen?

Baclofen can produce some of the following side effects:

  • Drowsiness or dizziness
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Headache
  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia)
  • Nausea, constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Confusion, restlessness, hallucinations (rare)
  • Muscle weakness or pain These side effects are usually temporary and may dissipate as your body adjusts to the medication. However, if these symptoms persist or become bothersome, it's crucial to contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Baclofen?

Baclofen is generally a well-tolerated medication, but like all drugs, it can potentially cause side effects. Some of the more serious adverse reactions to be aware of include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling in your face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Symptoms that might suggest an overdose including muscle weakness, dilated pupils or pinpoint pupils (in light), weak or shallow breathing
  • Seizures
  • Confusion and hallucinations
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior
  • A skin rash accompanied by itching and peeling
  • Blurred vision or other visual disturbances.

If you experience any of these symptoms while taking baclofen, seek medical help immediately.

Contraindications for Robaxin and Baclofen?

Both Robaxin and Baclofen, like most muscle relaxants, may cause side effects such as drowsiness or dizziness. If you notice these symptoms escalating or if they persist for a prolonged time period, please consult your healthcare provider immediately.

Neither Robaxin nor Baclofen should be taken if you are using opioid medications or have been consuming alcohol; the combination can lead to dangerous interactions including severe respiratory depression. Always inform your healthcare provider of all the medications you are taking; opioids and alcohol should clear from the system before starting therapy with Robaxin or Baclofen to prevent potentially life-threatening complications.

How much do Robaxin and Baclofen cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 50 tablets of Robaxin (500 mg) averages around $200, which works out to approximate costs between $4/day to $8/day depending on your dose.
  • On the other hand, the price for a pack containing 30 capsules of Baclofen (10 mg) is about $70. This equals approximately $2.33/day.

Thus, if you are in the higher dosage range for Robaxin (i.e., 1500 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Baclofen is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. However, cost should not be a primary consideration in determining which of these drugs is right for you.

When it comes to their generic versions, costs are significantly lower:

  • Methocarbamol (generic name for Robaxin; available as 500mg tablets) can be purchased in packs starting from 20 tablets and above with approximate costs ranging from only about $0.25 to up to around $.75 per day based on typical dosages varying from 1g -3g daily.
  • Generic baclofen also offers significant savings: available usually as packs starting from ten capsules upwards at strengths including but not limited to10mg/capsule; its cost ranges from roughly just under $.15 per day up until approximately $.45 per day when used at common dosages such as three times daily intake.

Popularity of Robaxin and Baclofen

Methocarbamol, available as a generic drug and under the brand name Robaxin, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 1.7 million people in the US in 2020. Methocarbamol accounted for just over 5% of muscle relaxant prescriptions in the US. However, it appears to be one of the most-common “non-benzodiazepine” muscle relaxants (not classified as a benzodiazepine or other broad class of muscle relaxants). Methocarbamol use has remained steady since its introduction.

Baclofen, including brand versions such as Lioresal and Gablofen among others, was prescribed to roughly 3 million people in the USA during that same year (2020). In terms of usage within the United States population, baclofen accounts for approximately 10% of all muscle relaxant prescriptions. The prevalence of baclofen has seen an increase over recent years due largely to growing recognition amongst medical professionals regarding its effectiveness for treating spasticity related conditions like multiple sclerosis.


Both Robaxin (methocarbamol) and Baclofen have a long history of use in the management of muscle spasms, with various clinical studies indicating that they are more effective than placebo treatments. In some cases, these drugs may be used together to manage severe spasticity, but such decisions should be made by an experienced physician due to potential interactions.

Robaxin and Baclofen work differently with Robaxin's mechanism of action not being fully understood, although it is believed to act centrally as a sedative or muscle relaxant. On the other hand, Baclofen acts on GABA-B receptors in the spinal cord inhibiting nerve signals that cause muscle contraction.

Robaxin is often used for acute musculoskeletal pain whereas Baclofen is typically prescribed for chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries. Both drugs are available in generic form which represents significant cost savings especially for patients who must pay out-of-pocket.

The side effect profile varies between two drugs; both can cause drowsiness and dizziness but baclofen has been associated with withdrawal symptoms if abruptly discontinued after prolonged usage. For both medications, patients must promptly seek medical help if they experience serious side effects such as seizures or difficulty breathing.