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Living with MS

Treatments > Medications Used In MS


Brand Name Chemical Name

Zanaflex
(U.S. and Canada)

Tizanidine hydrochloride (tye-ZAN-i-deen)

Primary Usage in MS

Generic Available
Spasticity Yes

Description
Tizanidine is used in multiple sclerosis to treat the increased muscle tone associated with spasticity. While it does not provide a cure for the problem, it is designed to relieve the spasms, cramping, and tightness of muscles.

Proper Usage
Tizanidine is a short-acting drug for the management of spasticity. Its peak effectiveness occurs one to two hours after dosing, and is finished between three to six hours after dosing. Therefore, your physician will prescribe a dosing schedule that provides maximal relief during activities and periods of time of greatest importance to you.

In order to minimize unwanted side effects with this medication, your physician will start you on a low dose and gradually raise it until a well-tolerated and effective level is reached.

Studies of tizanidine have not been done in pregnant women. Animal studies, using doses significantly higher than those prescribed for humans, have resulted in damage to the offspring. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, discuss this with your physician before starting this medication.

It is not known whether tizanidine passes into the breast milk. Women should not take this medication while nursing unless told to do so by their physician.

Precautions
Oral contraceptives (birth control pills) may slow the release of tizanidine from the body; women using birth control pills should inform their physician so that the dose level of tizanidine can be reduced accordingly.

This medication may cause blurred vision*, dizziness, or drowsiness in some people.

This drug will add to the effects of alcohol and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants (such as antihistamines, sedatives, tranquilizers, prescription pain medications, seizure medications, other muscle relaxants), possibly causing drowsiness. Be sure that your physician knows if you are taking these or any other medications.

Possible Side Effects
Common side effects that may go away as your body adjusts to the medication and do not require medical attention unless they continue for more than two weeks or are bothersome: dryness of mouth; sleepiness or sedation; weakness*, fatigue*, and or tiredness*; dizziness or lightheadedness, especially when getting up from a sitting or lying position; increase in muscle spasms, cramps, or tightness; back pain.

Common side effects that should be reported to the doctor as soon as possible: burning, prickling, or tingling sensation*; diarrhea; fainting; fever; loss of appetite; nausea; nervousness; pain or burning during urination; sores on skin; stomach pain; vomiting; yellow eyes or skin; blurred vision*.

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

Medication Index

Other Medications Used to Treat Spasticity in MS


Important Notice About Zanaflex Capsules
September 2005

New Capsule Formulation for Tizanidine
January 2005

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 September 21, 2006    
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