Utilization Patterns of Skeletal Muscle Relaxants Among Commercially Insured Adults in the United States from 2006 to 2018

Yan Li, Chris Delcher, Gary M. Reisfield, Yu Jung Wei, Joshua D. Brown, Almut G. Winterstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the prevalence and duration of skeletal muscle relaxant (SMR) treatment among commercially insured adults in the United States. Methods: We used the MarketScan Research Database to identify a cohort of adults 18 to 64 years who had ≥2-year continuous enrollment between 2005 and 2018. We estimated the prevalence of SMR treatment using a repeated cross-sectional design and derived treatment duration using the Kaplan-Meier method. Analyses were stratified by age group, sex, geographic region, individual SMR agent, and musculoskeletal disorder. Results: 48.7 million individuals were included. Treatment prevalence ranged from 61.5 to 68.3 per 1,000. About one-third of users did not have a preceding musculoskeletal disorder diagnosis. Cyclobenzaprine was the dominant agent accounting for >50% of prescriptions. The considerable growth in the use of baclofen, tizanidine, and methocarbamol paralleled with a decline in carisoprodol and metaxalone use. The prevalence was highest in the South while lowest in the Northeast. The median treatment duration was 14 days with 4.0%, 1.9%, and 1.0% of individuals using SMRs for more than 90, 180, and 365 days, respectively. Compared with cyclobenzaprine, patients initiating baclofen, tizanidine, and carisoprodol had longer treatment duration. Conclusions: SMRs are widely used in the United States. Their use slightly increased in recent years, but trends varied among individual agents, patient groups, and geographic regions. Despite limited evidence to support efficacy, a sizable number of U.S. adults used SMRs for long-term and off-label conditions. Further study is needed to understand determinants of treatment as well as outcomes associated with such use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2153-2161
Number of pages9
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.All rights reserved.


  • Baclofen
  • Carisoprodol
  • Chlorzoxazone
  • Cyclobenzaprine
  • Drug Utilization Study
  • Metaxalone
  • Methocarbamol
  • Musculoskeletal Pain
  • Orphenadrine
  • Prevalence
  • Skeletal Muscle Relaxants
  • Tizanidine
  • Treatment Duration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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