A short-acting medication, Zanaflex is approved to treat spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis or other diseases. Some of the symptoms it can treat include muscle cramps, spasms, and tightness. Available in the form of a capsule or tablet, the medicine is usually taken as needed, up to three times a day. Common side effects include dry mouth, weakness, and drowsiness.

What Is Zanaflex?

Zanaflex® (tizanidine hydrochloride) is a prescription medication used to treat spasticity, a condition involving muscle spasms, cramps, and tightness that is often caused by multiple sclerosis (MS) or spinal cord injuries or diseases. Zanaflex is short-acting (each dose only lasts for a few hours) and should be reserved for daily activities when spasticity control is most important.
(Click Zanaflex Uses for more information on what the drug is used for, including possible off-label indications.)

Who Makes It?

Brand-name Zanaflex is made by Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. Generic versions are made by various manufacturers.

How Does Zanaflex Work?

Zanaflex belongs to a group of medications known as alpha-2 adrenergic agonists. It binds to and stimulates alpha-2 receptors, an action that inhibits motor neurons. This medication works centrally (in the spinal cord or brain), not directly on the muscles.

When and How to Take It

Some general considerations to keep in mind when taking this medicine include the following:
  • Zanaflex comes in tablet and capsule forms. It is usually taken as needed, up to three times daily.
  • The effects of this medication peak about one to two hours after taking it, and it will usually stop working within three to six hours. Keep this in mind when timing your doses.
  • Taking the capsules with food decreases the peak level of medication in the bloodstream, but the opposite is true with the tablets (food increases the peak level of medication). It is important to take Zanaflex consistently in the same way -- either with or without food.
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. Do not stop taking it suddenly, especially if you have been taking it for quite a while.
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Zanaflex Medication Information

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