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What Is Dantrolene Used For?

People who have muscle spasticity caused by cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, or other neurological conditions may benefit from using dantrolene. This prescription medicine is also approved for treating or preventing a potentially life-threatening reaction that can occur during surgery. Off-label reasons a healthcare provider may prescribe dantrolene include the treatment of certain muscle pain and heat stroke.

An Overview of Uses for Dantrolene

Dantrolene sodium (Dantrium®) is a prescription medication that belongs to a group of medicines known as muscle relaxants. However, unlike other muscle relaxants, dantrolene works directly on the muscle. It comes as a capsule, which is taken by mouth, and as an injection, which is given through a needle inserted into a vein (an intravenous, or IV, injection).
Dantrolene capsules are approved to control muscle spasticity associated with certain neurological conditions. They are also approved for use in treating a condition known as malignant hyperthermia. Dantrolene injection is approved for use in malignant hyperthermia.

Dantrolene Use for Muscle Spasticity

Spasticity refers to increased muscle tone or muscle stiffness. It usually occurs as a result of damage to the nerves that control muscle movements, or damage to areas of the brain involved in movements. Conditions associated with spasticity include:
Symptoms of spasticity can range from mild to severe and may include:
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle cramps
  • Exaggerated deep tendon reflexes, such as knee-jerk reflexes
  • Involuntary, repetitive muscle contractions (clonus)
  • Muscle tightness that causes the joints to be fixed (unmovable)
  • Involuntary crossing of the legs.
Spasticity can cause pain and discomfort. For many people with spasticity, the extra work it takes to move around when the muscles are stiff can make them tired or fatigued. The increased stiffness in the muscles means that a lot of energy must be used for daily activities. This can make it more difficult to perform normal daily activities. It can also interfere with rehabilitation.
Dantrolene may be especially useful for people who would have more successful rehabilitation if their spasticity were better controlled. Treatment with dantrolene may help reduce the severity of spasticity, which can:
  • Reduce pain or discomfort
  • Improve daily functioning
  • Reduce the need for nursing care
  • Help people do more of the things they want and need to do.
Dantrolene may not work for everyone. Your healthcare provider will consider how much benefit you will likely receive from the medication, as well as your personal goals of treatment, when considering whether to prescribe this medication on a long-term basis.
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Dantrolene Drug Information

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