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A to Z of MS Diazepam
Diazepam has been used in the treatment of spasticity and spasms since the 1960s. The side effects of diazepam and the potential for users to become dependent on the drug, mean that it tends to be used only when other spasticity treatments are not proving effective. Research has compared diazepam with baclofen and tizanidine, the current standard treatments, found that both drugs had a similar effect on the reduction of spasticity.
Diazepam can be used on its own or in combination with other drugs. It can be taken prior to sleep if spasms are particularly troublesome at night.
Diazepam is also a treatment for severe anxiety.
How diazepam works
Diazepam is one of a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, which slow down the transmission of messages by the nervous system.
How diazepam is given
Diazepam is taken orally as tablets. Treatment starts with a low dose that is built up slowly over weeks until the drug is proving effective or until the side effects prevent a higher dose. Treatment should not be stopped suddenly as this can cause withdrawal symptoms.
Side effects and contraindications
Side effects include drowsiness, fatigue, unsteadiness and feeling less alert. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take diazepam. Diazepam should not be taken with alcohol. It can also interact with antihistamines, sedatives, tranquillisers, prescription pain medications and sleeping medications.
Groves L, et al.
Tizanidine treatment of spasticity: a meta-analysis of controlled, double-blind, comparative studies with baclofen and diazepam.
Advance In Therapy 1998;15(4):241-251.
Patient Information Leaflets
- Diazepam (EMC website)