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Skelaxin vs Soma

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Skelaxin Information

Soma Information

Comparative Analysis

Skelaxin Prescription Information

Soma Prescription Information

Skelaxin Side Effects

Soma Side Effects

Safety Information

Cost Information

Market Analysis



For individuals with musculoskeletal conditions, such as muscle spasms or severe pain due to an injury, certain drugs that relax the muscles can help in reducing discomfort and promoting healing. Skelaxin and Soma are two such medications often prescribed for these conditions. They both work by blocking nerve impulses (or pain sensations) that are sent to your brain, providing relief from muscular discomfort.

Skelaxin (metaxalone) operates within the central nervous system to provide a sedative effect on skeletal muscles, thus helping reduce painful spasms. It doesn't directly relax tense skeletal muscles but rather inhibits neuronal communication.

On the other hand, Soma (carisoprodol) is classified as a carbamate derivative with potent muscle relaxation properties primarily working at the level of spinal cord and subcortical levels of the brain altering interneuronal activity. Both Skelaxin and Soma have proven effective in managing acute musculoskeletal pain caused due to various conditions; however, their specific mechanism of action differs slightly.

Skelaxin vs Soma Side By Side

Brand NameSkelaxinSoma
ContraindicationsShould not be taken if within the last two weeks you've been taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).Should not be taken if within the last two weeks you've been taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
CostFor the brand name, around $340 for 30 tablets (800 mg). For the generic version, prices range from roughly $3.40-$1.50 per tablet depending on pack size.For the brand name, around $750 for 30 tablets (350 mg). For the generic version, prices fluctuate between approximately $2-$0.70 per tablet depending on pack quantity.
Generic NameMetaxaloneCarisoprodol
Most Serious Side EffectSerious skin reactions, changes in vision, heart issues, issues related to low sodium levels, severe nervous system reaction.Dependency and withdrawal symptoms, allergic reactions, agitation and confusion, hallucinations, rapid heart rate, uncontrolled muscle movements, depressed mood, seizures.
Severe Drug InteractionsMAOIsMAOIs
Typical Dose800–3200 mg/day, with the standard dose being 800 mg taken three to four times per day.250–350 mg taken three times daily and at bedtime.

What is Skelaxin?

Metaxalone (the generic name for Skelaxin) and Carisoprodol (commonly known as Soma), are both muscle relaxants that block pain sensations between the nerves and the brain. They were significant breakthroughs in managing discomfort associated with acute, painful musculoskeletal conditions. Metaxalone was first approved by the FDA in 1962. This medication works by blocking nerve impulses(or pain sensations) in the brain, offering relief to patients suffering from different forms of muscle spasms or injuries. Skelaxin has a specific impact on central nervous system depression while having minor influence on other body systems which results in it having fewer side effects than other muscle relaxants like Soma that have stronger effects on these systems.

What conditions is Skelaxin approved to treat?

Both Skelaxin and Soma are approved to treat certain medical conditions:

  • Skelaxin (metaxalone) is indicated as an adjunct to rest, physical therapy, and other measures for the relief of discomforts associated with acute, painful musculoskeletal conditions.

  • Soma (carisoprodol) is a muscle relaxant that provides short-term relief from acute musculoskeletal pain. It's also used in combination with physiotherapy and rest for treatment of such conditions.

How does Skelaxin help with these illnesses?

Skelaxin aids in managing discomfort associated with acute, painful musculoskeletal conditions by acting as a muscle relaxant. It achieves this by blocking nerve impulses (or pain sensations) that are sent to the brain. The exact mechanism of how Skelaxin works is not entirely understood but it's believed to primarily act at the level of the central nervous system and not directly on skeletal muscles. Much like neurotransmitters play an important role in mood regulation, different signals within our nervous system also control muscle contraction and tension.

On the other hand, Soma acts similarly but has additional properties that may impact its overall effect. Soma also blocks interneuronal activity in descending reticular activation and spinal cord thereby relaxing muscles, however, it also has sedative qualities which can cause drowsiness or sleepiness. Therefore, while both drugs help patients manage their condition by relieving muscle spasms and providing comfort from musculoskeletal conditions such as strains or sprains; choosing between them often depends on individual patient factors including tolerance for potential side effects like drowsiness.

What is Soma?

Soma, also known by the generic name carisoprodol, is a muscle relaxant that functions by blocking pain sensations between the nerves and the brain. It was first approved by FDA in 1959. Soma is not an opioid analgesic; it does not function through opiate receptors nor does it lead to respiratory depression or physical dependence typical of opioids like morphine or oxycodone. Its distinctive mechanism means its side-effect profile varies from that of opioid drugs, notably in that it usually causes less constipation and has lower addiction potential (common side effects associated with opioids). The effects on nerve transmission can be beneficial for patients suffering from acute musculoskeletal conditions such as muscle spasms and strains, particularly when conventional over-the-counter options like ibuprofen have failed to provide sufficient relief.

What conditions is Soma approved to treat?

Soma, also known as carisoprodol, is an FDA-approved muscle relaxant used for the following conditions:

  • Short-term treatment of muscle pain and discomfort
  • Conditions associated with acute, painful musculoskeletal conditions Please note that it's typically used along with rest, physical therapy, and other treatments.

How does Soma help with these illnesses?

Carisoprodol, commonly known as Soma, functions by affecting the communication between nerves in the central nervous system. It produces muscle relaxation and pain relief. Similar to norepinephrine's role in wakefulness, memory recall, focus and attention within the body, carisoprodol plays a significant function in managing discomfort associated with acute musculoskeletal conditions. Compared to Skelaxin (metaxalone), Soma may offer more powerful muscle relaxant effects due to its dual action of interrupting neuronal communication within the reticular formation and spinal cord. This is particularly useful for patients with severe muscle spasms or those who have not responded well to other treatments like Skelaxin. However, because it can cause drowsiness and has potential for abuse and addiction, Soma must be used carefully under medical supervision.

How effective are both Skelaxin and Soma?

Both metaxalone (Skelaxin) and carisoprodol (Soma) have established histories of success in treating patients with muscle spasms and musculoskeletal conditions, and they were initially approved by the FDA several decades ago. Since they act through different mechanisms, they may be prescribed under different circumstances. The effectiveness of metaxalone and carisoprodol in alleviating muscular discomfort was directly studied in double-blind clinical trials; both drugs exhibited similar efficacy in managing symptoms as well as promising safety profiles.

A 2003 review on metaxalone demonstrated that it is effective at relieving acute musculoskeletal pain starting from the first week of treatment, that its side effect profile is favorable over many other muscle relaxants due to less sedation, and that it is well-tolerated even among elderly populations. This study reports that Metaxalone has become a widely used medication for musculoskeletal conditions.

In contrast, a 2012 review indicated that while carisoprodol seems to be more effective than placebo in treating acute back or neck pain associated with muscle spasm, there are concerns about its potential misuse or abuse due to its sedative effects. Additionally, because carisoprodol can cause physical dependence with prolonged use, it's typically considered after non-drug therapies or other first-line treatments have failed. Nonetheless, due to its unique pharmacology which includes anxiolytic properties apart from muscle relaxation effects , Carisoprodol may be an optimal treatment for patients who did not respond well to other muscle relaxants or those suffering from co-morbid anxiety disorders.

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At what dose is Skelaxin typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Skelaxin typically range from 800–3200 mg/day, with most patients finding relief at the lower end of this spectrum. The standard dose is 800 mg taken three to four times per day. Adolescents and older adults may be started on a lower dosage. If there's no significant response after several weeks, a healthcare provider might consider increasing the dose. However, it's crucial not to exceed the maximum daily limit of 3200 mg under any circumstances.

At what dose is Soma typically prescribed?

Soma treatment typically begins at a dosage of 250–350 mg taken three times daily and at bedtime. This is the recommended dose for adults and children over the age of 16. The medication should be spaced out throughout the day, ideally every six hours or so, to maintain consistent relief from muscle pain or discomfort. It's important to note that due to its potential for abuse and addiction, Soma therapy should only continue for up to two-three weeks unless your healthcare provider advises otherwise. If there is no significant improvement in symptoms after this period, it may be necessary to reassess your treatment plan.

What are the most common side effects for Skelaxin?

Common side effects of Skelaxin (metaxalone) include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nervousness or irritability
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Rash or itching

On the other hand, Soma (carisoprodol) may cause:

-Drowsiness or dizziness -Nervousness or irritability
-Upset stomach, heartburn
-Skin rash
-Increased heartbeat.

Please note that not everyone will experience these side effects and they often resolve over time. If any persist or become troublesome, discuss them with your healthcare provider.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Skelaxin?

While both Skelaxin and Soma are muscle relaxants, they do have different side effects. For instance, with Skelaxin you may experience:

  • Allergic reactions: although rare, signs such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat could indicate a severe reaction. If these occur seek medical attention immediately.
  • Serious skin reactions: fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes leading to skin pain followed by a red or purple rash (especially in the face) that spreads causing blistering and peeling is alarming.
  • Changes in vision: blurred vision or seeing halos around lights.
  • Heart issues: rapid heartbeats or feeling like you might faint can be potentially serious.
  • Issues related to low sodium levels - symptoms such as headache confusion slurred speech vomiting loss of coordination feeling unsteady.
  • Severe nervous system reaction - rigid muscles sweating fast uneven heartbeats tremors.

With Soma there's an additional risk for dependency and withdrawal symptoms if the drug is discontinued abruptly after prolonged use. This includes agitation restlessness irritability depression anxiety seizures sleep problems hallucinations nausea tremors muscle twitching shivering stomach cramps insomnia headaches etc. Always consult with healthcare provider before making any changes to medication regimen.

What are the most common side effects for Soma?

Soma, also known as carisoprodol, can have a variety of side effects which may include:

  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Upset stomach and occasional vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Feeling irritable or jittery
  • Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
  • Increased heart rate
  • Skin rash occasionally This drug might also cause confusion and agitation in some patients. In rare cases, it could lead to weight changes and increased urination. Moreover, like many muscle relaxants, Soma might possibly result in feelings of weakness in the muscles.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Soma?

Soma, also known as carisoprodol, is generally well-tolerated but can sometimes lead to serious side effects. If you note any of the following symptoms after taking Soma, it's crucial to seek immediate medical attention:

  • An allergic reaction characterized by hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Agitation and confusion
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't there)
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements in your face (chewing, lip smacking), tongue thrusting
  • Depressed mood with thoughts about suicide or hurting oneself
  • Seizures (convulsions)

It's worth noting that these severe side effects are rare. Most people using this medication do not experience such adverse reactions. However, if you notice unusual behavior changes while on Soma treatment course like feeling extremely happy or irritable without a cause and/or having trouble sleeping due to incessant thoughts racing through your mind - these could be signs of a manic episode which requires prompt medical intervention.

Contraindications for Skelaxin and Soma?

Just as with many muscle relaxants, both Skelaxin and Soma may exacerbate symptoms of certain conditions in some individuals. If you notice an increase in dizziness, confusion or unusual weakness after starting these medications, please seek immediate medical attention.

Both Skelaxin (metaxalone) and Soma (carisoprodol) should not be taken if within the last two weeks you've been taking inhibitors used to treat depression known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). It's crucial that your physician is aware of all medications you are currently on; MAOIs will require a period of about 2 weeks to clear from the system before beginning treatment with either Skelaxin or Soma to avoid harmful interactions.

How much do Skelaxin and Soma cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for 30 tablets of Skelaxin (800 mg) averages around $340, which works out to approximately $11/day.
  • The price for 30 tablets of Soma (350 mg), on the other hand, averages around $750 or about $25/day.

Therefore, if you are in need of muscle relaxant treatment, opting for brand-name Skelaxin is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis compared to Soma. However, please bear in mind that cost shouldn't be your only consideration when choosing between these two medications.

For the generic versions of these drugs:

  • Metaxalone (generic version of Skelaxin - 800mg) comes in packs starting from as low as 5 up to 500 tablets with prices ranging from roughly $3.40-$1.50 per tablet depending on pack size.
  • Carisoprodol (generic version of Soma - 350mg) comes in similar pack sizes with prices fluctuating between approximately $2-$0.70 per tablet again dependent on pack quantity.

This demonstrates that both generic alternatives offer significant savings and may be more affordable options without compromising effectiveness.

Popularity of Skelaxin and Soma

Metaxalone, in generic form as well as brand names such as Skelaxin, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 1.5 million people in the US in 2020. Metaxalone accounted for just over 8% of muscle relaxant prescriptions in the US. However, it appears to be a common choice among “skeletal” muscle relaxants (drugs specifically used for musculoskeletal conditions). The prevalence of metaxalone has been generally increasing since 2013.

Carisoprodol, including brand versions such as Soma, was prescribed to an approximate of 2.2 million people in the USA in 2020. In the US, carisoprodol accounts for just under 12% of skeletal muscle relaxant prescriptions and is one of the most commonly utilized drugs within this class due its rapid onset action and efficacy for acute musculoskeletal pain relief. The prevalence of carisoprodol has remained fairly steady over the last decade with some fluctuations.


Both Skelaxin (metaxalone) and Soma (carisoprodol) have a long history of use in patients with musculoskeletal pain, particularly acute, painful musculoskeletal conditions. Numerous studies indicate they are more effective than placebo treatments for reducing muscle spasms and improving mobility. However, their mechanisms of action differ slightly; while both drugs work centrally within the nervous system to relax muscles, metaxalone is thought to inhibit nerve signals in the spinal cord and brain that control the muscles whereas carisoprodol interrupts neuronal communication within the reticular formation and spinal cord.

Skelaxin may be preferred as a first-line option due to its lower potential for abuse compared to Soma which has been classified as a controlled substance by the DEA due to concerns about dependency and withdrawal symptoms.

Both medications come in generic forms which offer considerable cost savings especially for individuals who must pay out-of-pocket expenses. Both Skelaxin and Soma can have an onset period meaning noticeable relief may not occur immediately after initiation of therapy.

It's important also to note that both drugs share similar side effect profiles including dizziness, sleepiness or clumsiness but these effects tend to resolve over time as your body adjusts. For both medications, it’s crucial that patients inform their healthcare provider immediately if they experience any severe reactions such as difficulty breathing or mood changes.