How to Prevent Constipation While Taking Cyclobenzaprine
Cyclobenzaprine, the generic name for the drug Flexeril, is a prescription muscle relaxant and pain reliever. According to Drugs.com, it acts by blocking pain sensations that are sent to the brain. It is typically used with rest and physical therapy to treat muscle conditions and pain. Constipation may be a side effect of this drug for some people, as many pain relievers are, but you can take some steps to keep this from occurring. Talk with your doctor if you have persistent constipation.
Take a psyllium capsule or psyllium fiber product such as Metamucil. The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that psyllium is a soluble fiber that has a laxative effect 2. Follow the instructions on the package and check with your doctor before using it to make sure it is safe for you to consume.
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Participate in some sort of physical activity, if your doctors and physical therapists say it is safe to do so. The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse explains that a lack of physical activity contributes to constipation, although the reasons are not known 3. Ask your doctor what activities are safe to do while on cyclobenzaprine that will not cause you additional pain.
Eat foods rich in insoluble fiber. Although you may not have much of an appetite when you are in pain or taking pain medicine, it is important to maintain a healthy diet to promote normal bowel function. Insoluble fiber promotes the movement of food through your digestive system and bulks up stool, states MayoClinic.com. This lessens constipation 3. Dietary sources of insoluble fiber include nuts, vegetables, wheat bran and whole-wheat flour products.
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Drink plenty of fluids, even if you do not feel thirsty. You may be sleeping a lot due to the pain or the medication, but it is important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Dehydration can contribute to constipation; drink fruit and vegetable juices, water and clear soups to prevent this, recommends the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse 3.
Ask your doctor whether there are any other muscle relaxants or pain relievers that may not cause constipation, if cyclobenzaprine causes you significant problems. She may be able to recommend another drug that may work better for you.
Do not take laxatives over a long period of time; this can create dependence and cause more constipation, says the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.
Talk to your doctor about any bowel trouble you have while taking cyclobenzaprine; your dosage may need to be reduced, or your dosing schedule may be changed to treat your constipation. Do not stop taking your medication without first talking with your physician.
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- Drugs.com: Cyclobenzaprine Information
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Psyllium; Dr. Steven Ehrlich; 2009
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Constipation
- MayoClinic.com: Dietary Fiber: Essential For A Healthy Diet
- Bruma Jose M. Satiety effects of psyllium in healthy volunteers. Appetite. Volume 105, 1 October 2016, Pages 27-36. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2016.04.041
- Lever E, Cole J, Scott SM, Emery PW, Whelan K. Systematic review: the effect of prunes on gastrointestinal function. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014;40(7):750-8. doi:10.1111/apt.12913
- de Bock M, Derraik JG, Brennan CM, et al. Psyllium supplementation in adolescents improves fat distribution & lipid profile: a randomized, participant-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41735. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041735
- Lambeau KV and Johnson W. McRorie, Jr. Fiber supplements and clinically proven health benefits: How to recognize and recommend an effective fiber therapy. J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2017 Apr; 29(4): 216–223. doi:10.1002/2327-6924.12447
- Moayyedi P, Quigley EM, Lacy BE, et al. The effect of fiber supplementation on irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol. 2014;109(9):1367-74. doi:10.1038/ajg.2014.195
- Gibb RD, McRorie JW Jr, Russell DA, Hasselblad V, D'Alessio DA. Psyllium fiber improves glycemic control proportional to loss of glycemic control: a meta-analysis of data in euglycemic subjects, patients at risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, and patients being treated for type 2 diabetes mellitus. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec;102(6):1604-14. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.106989
- Proctor & Gamble. Metamucil.
- Food Information Council Foundation. Fiber Fact Sheet.
- El-Salhy Magdy, et al. Dietary fiber in irritable bowel syndrome (Review). Int J Mol Med. 2017 Sep; 40(3): 607–613. doi:10.3892/ijmm.2017.3072
- University of California San Francisco. Increasing Fiber Intake.
Jaime Herndon has been writing for health websites since 2009 and has guest-blogged on SheKnows. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and women's studies, she earned a Master of Science in clinical health psychology and a Master of Public Health in maternal-child health. Her interests include oncology, women's health and exercise science.