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What is Carisoprodol?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Carisoprodol is a prescription muscle relaxant that is given to patients who have acute injuries or chronic muscle disorders. It is marketed under the brand name Soma® in many countries, though generic varieties are also available. Carisoprodol comes in oral capsules that can be taken after meals to relieve symptoms of localized pain, swelling, and stiffness. The drug is usually safe when it is taken exactly as directed by a doctor, though it has the potential to become addictive if it is abused. Most patients are instructed to take the medicine for about two weeks or less if pain subsides.

Doctors rely on carisoprodol to supplement regular rest and guided physical therapy to help patients overcome muscle strains, sprains, and tears. Muscle relaxants such as carisoprodol work when they are metabolized and released into the bloodstream. Medication travels to the brain and spinal cord, where it effectively inhibits nerve cells from relaying signals between muscles and the central nervous system. As a result, muscles become numb and relaxed.

Most adult patients are prescribed 250 or 350 milligram doses to be taken three times a day, though dosing amounts can vary based on a person's age, weight, and specific condition. The drug is not normally given to children due to insufficient research about possible complications. Since carisoprodol is designed to relieve acute pain, it rarely needs to be taken for more than two or three weeks. A doctor can evaluate symptoms throughout the recovery phase to determine if dosages need to be adjusted or stopped completely.

Adverse side effects are unlikely when a patient follows his or her doctor's recommendations. The most common side effects include stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness. Some people experience headaches, changes in vision, and an increased heart rate after taking the drug. Rarely, carisoprodol can lead to fainting, seizures, or paralysis in one or more parts of the body. In addition, an allergic reaction to the drug is possible that can cause a skin rash and throat swelling. Mild side effects should be reported to a doctor, while severe reactions need to be addressed at the emergency room.

Carisoprodol can cause severe problems if a patient overdoses or if a person takes it without a prescription. An individual can become physiologically and psychologically dependent on the drug, and severe chills, tremors, and other withdrawal symptoms can occur when it is not available. A person who shows signs of addiction should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible to learn how to overcome the problem.

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