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What Is Cyclobenzaprine Hydrochloride?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride is a medication used for short periods of time to treat painful muscle spasms, and it may occasionally be prescribed for longer intervals to address chronic conditions. The medicine’s chemical structure resembles certain antidepressants, which means it is either contraindicated or used with exceptional care in people taking them. Additionally, other drugs or medical conditions may contraindicate cyclobenzaprine or change its dosage recommendations. It also has a variety of benign and more severe side effects.

Muscle relaxants like cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride are useful for limited pain conditions, such as muscle tension and discomfort that might be present with an injury. In a variety of studies, this medication has not been found particularly beneficial when it is prescribed for longer than two weeks. Using the drug for lengthier periods to treat certain conditions, like fibromyalgia, is considered controversial. Nevertheless, some physicians do suggest patients take the drug for longer periods of time, though this is an off-label recommendation.

Studies on cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride differ in their conclusions about how the drug works. Its chemical structure has similarities to tricyclic antidepressants, but the drug also reduces serotonin levels and has some antihistamine benefits. This medication does depress the central nervous system (CNS). The extent of CNS depressant side effects, like drowsiness, may depend on dosage and delivery methods of the drug. Higher doses, which tend to be injected, are likely to cause more symptoms, while lower amounts taken in tablet form might have fewer effects.

Due to its similarity to certain antidepressants, cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride should never be taken with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), an older antidepressant class. Physicians should weigh the benefits of the drug for patients using tricyclic antidepressants or other medications for depression. Additional medicines contraindicate cyclobenzaprine or require dosage adjustments, and these include certain antihistamines, tramadol, dicyclomine and all other CNS depressants. Patients should present doctors with a full list of medications to avoid dangerous drug interactions.

Some medical conditions may also change dosage or contraindicate use. Children under 15 are advised against taking this medication, while elderly patients may experience more side effects than younger adults. The risks of cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride for pregnant or nursing women are thought to be low, but haven’t been adequately studied. Also, patients with heart conditions, hyperthyroidism, prostate difficulties or liver disease should make these known to the prescribing physician.

Certain side effects associated with cyclobenzaprine are relatively benign, but should still be mentioned to doctors if they are bothersome. These include dizziness or drowsiness and dryness of the mouth, throat, or eyes. Some patients taking this drug feel fatigue or muscle weakness, while others may experience upset stomach or blurred vision.

More serious side effects require immediate medical attention. Among them is severe allergy to cyclobenzaprine hydrochloride, which has symptoms of difficulty breathing, hives, and swelling of the face, mouth, lips, and tongue. Signs of a heart attack or stroke, extreme nausea, seizures, or jaundice are additional severe adverse reactions. Hallucinations and fainting need emergency care, too.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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