Long-term use of muscle relaxants has skyrocketed since 2005

Office visits for ongoing prescribing of skeletal muscle relaxant drugs tripled from 2005 to 2016, according to a new study from researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Moreover, in 2016, nearly 70 percent of patients prescribed muscle relaxants were simultaneously prescribed an opioid—a combination that has the potential to cause dangerous interactions. The researchers also found that muscle relaxants were prescribed disproportionately to older adults during this time period, despite national guidelines warning that this class of drugs should almost always be avoided in patients who are 65 and older. The results were published today in JAMA Network Open.

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