Cerebral Palsy: Medicines to Relax Spastic Muscles
What To Think About
Your doctor may talk to you about intrathecal baclofen. It's baclofen that's given directly into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. A small pump is surgically placed under the skin of the abdomen. Medicine is carried through a tube attached to the pump into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. The pump is programmed to release a continuous amount of medicine. Benefits of giving baclofen this way include:
- Reduced medicine needs. Because intrathecal baclofen is given right into the spinal fluid, it takes less medicine to be effective than with pills. This reduces side effects such as nausea and drowsiness, which are a problem with the oral form of the medicine.
- Improved muscle tone and function.
Disadvantages of using baclofen through a pump include the following:
- The insertion of the pump carries a risk of infection.
- In rare cases, problems with the pump, such as failure or breakage, result in sudden withdrawal. Symptoms such as itching, rebound Reference spasticity Opens New Window, and rapid heartbeat may be noticed. Other malfunctions can cause an overdose and lead to breathing problems and coma.
Make sure your doctor knows about all of the health problems you have. Having certain problems, such as kidney or liver disease, may affect how your doctor prescribes this medicine.
This medicine may cause you to become drowsy, dizzy, or less alert, which makes it harder for you to concentrate. If you are feeling sleepy, don't drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous to you or other people.
The oral medicines and intrathecal baclofen increase the sedating effects of alcohol and certain medicines, such as antihistamines that are used for cold, flu, and allergy relief.
Do not stop taking one of these oral medicines or intrathecal baclofen without first checking with your doctor. Stopping the medicine suddenly may cause unwanted side effects.
Dantrolene may cause liver damage. Frequent blood tests are needed to check liver functioning when a person is taking this medicine.
Injectable medicines tend to have a longer effect than oral medicines do. For example, botox usually begins to take effect within 3 days after injection, although the full effects are often not evident for 1 to 2 weeks. The effects of Botox last for about 4 to 8 months.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Reference Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or trying to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Women who use diazepam during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of using this medicine against the risks of not treating your condition.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: September 20, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Reference Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics