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Treatments > Medications Used In MS


Brand Name Chemical Name

Klonopin (U.S.)
Rivotril;
Syn-Clonazepam
(Canada)

Clonazepam
(kloe-na-ze-pam)

Primary Usage in MS

Generic Available
Tremor; Pain; Spasticity No

Description
Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine that belongs to the group of medications called central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which slow down the nervous system. Although clonazepam is used for a variety of medical conditions, it is used in multiple sclerosis primarily for the treatment of tremor, pain, and spasticity.

Proper Usage
Keep this medication out of the reach of children. An overdose of this medication may be especially dangerous for children.

Precautions
During the first few months taking clonazepam, your physician should check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine does not cause unwanted effects.

Take this medication only as directed by your physician; do not increase the dose without a prescription to do so.

Clonazepam adds to the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants (e.g., antihistamines, sedatives, tranquilizers, prescription pain medications, seizure medications, muscle relaxants, sleeping medications). Consult your physician before taking any of these CNS depressants while you are taking clonazepam. Taking an overdose of this medication or taking it with alcohol or other CNS depressants may lead to unconsciousness and possibly death.

Stopping this medication suddenly may cause withdrawal side effects. Reduce the amount gradually before stopping completely.

Clonazepam frequently causes people to become drowsy, dizzy, lightheaded, clumsy, or unsteady. Even if taken at bedtime, it may cause some people to feel drowsy or less alert on awakening.

Studies in animals have shown that clonazepam can cause birth defects or other problems, including death of the animal fetus.

Overuse of clonazepam during pregnancy may cause the baby to become dependent on it, leading to withdrawal side effects after birth. The use of clonazepam, especially during the last weeks of pregnancy, may cause breathing problems, muscle weakness, difficulty in feeding, and body temperature problems in the newborn infant.

Clonazepam may pass into breast milk and cause drowsiness, slow heartbeat, shortness of breath, or troubled breathing in nursing babies.

Possible Side Effects
Side effects that may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medication and do not require medical attention unless they continue for several weeks or are bothersome: drowsiness or tiredness; clumsiness or unsteadiness*; dizziness or lightheadedness; slurred speech*; abdominal cramps or pain; blurred vision or other changes in vision*; changes in sexual drive or performance*; gastrointestinal changes, including constipation* or diarrhea; dryness of mouth; fast or pounding heartbeat; muscle spasm*; trouble with urination*; trembling.·

Unusual side effects that should be discussed as soon as possible with your physician: behavior problems, including difficulty concentrating and outbursts of anger; confusion or mental depression; convulsions; hallucinations; low blood pressure; muscle weakness; skin rash or itching; sore throat, fever, chills; unusual bleeding or bruising; unusual excitement or irritability.·

Symptoms of overdose that require immediate emergency help: continuing confusion; severe drowsiness; shakiness; slowed heartbeat; shortness of breath; slow reflexes; continuing slurred speech*; staggering*; unusual severe weakness*.

*Since it may be difficult to distinguish between certain common symptoms of MS and some side effects of clonazepam, be sure to consult your health care professional if an abrupt change of this type occurs.

Medication Index

Other Medications Used to Treat MS-related Pain

Other Medications Used to Treat Spasticity in MS

Another Medication Used to Treat Tremor in MS

About Tremor

Tremor: The Basic Facts
Treatments, therapies, coping techniques, and more.

About Pain in MS

Pain: The Basic Facts
Types of pain, therapies, self-help, resources, and more.

About Spasticity

Controlling Spasticity in MS
Self-help, treatment goals, therapies, and more.


Reprinted with permission from Rosalind C. Kalb (ed.), Multiple Sclerosis: The Questions You Have—The Answers You Need, 3rd Edition. New York: Demos Medical Publishing, Inc., 2004

Last updated January 13, 2005

     
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