Skelaxin (Metaxalone) Muscle Relaxer Uses and Dosage

A drug used for painful musculoskeletal conditions

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Skelaxin (metaxalone) is a muscle relaxant used to treat muscle pain and stiffness related to acute, painful musculoskeletal conditions. This medication is often used in combination with rest and physical therapy to treat strains, sprains, or other injuries.

Experts believe the drug works by slowing nerve impulses in the brain and spinal cord. Metaxalone is available by prescription only.

This article explains how metaxalone is used to treat musculoskeletal pain, as well as its side effects and the reasons why people with certain health conditions should not use it.

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What Class of Drug Is Skelaxin?

Metaxalone is a skeletal muscle relaxant. It is neither a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) nor an analgesic (painkiller).

How it works remains unclear, but experts think it may depress the central nervous system (CNS). It makes you less sleepy than other drugs do, but there are risks for people also taking opiates or other drugs.

Skelaxin (Metaxalone) Uses

Skelaxin may be given to people living with the following conditions:

Recommended Dosage

The recommended dose of Skelaxin for adults and children over 12 years of age is one 800 milligram (mg) tablet three to four times a day. It is important not to take more of this medication than your healthcare provider prescribed.

Dangerous side effects can occur if you take too much. Metaxalone is absorbed in the small intestine, is metabolized by the liver, and excreted in urine.

Who Shouldn't Take Skelaxin

Skelaxin has been found to be safe for most people but there are others who should not take it, including:

  • Older people, due to increased risk of cognitive impairment and fractures from falls
  • Known hypersensitivity to components of the drug
  • History of anemias
  • History of kidney or liver dysfunction

Skelaxin tablets also should not be used by women who are or may become pregnant, and particularly during early pregnancy unless in the judgment of the healthcare provider the potential benefits outweigh the possible hazards. Safe use of metaxalone has not been established with regard to possible adverse effects upon fetal development.

It is not known whether this drug is secreted in breast milk, so its use should generally be avoided in nursing parents.

Pediatric use, safety, and effectiveness in children 12 years of age and younger have not been established.

Skelaxin Side Effects

The most frequent side effects experienced by people taking metaxalone include:

  • CNS symptoms of drowsiness, dizziness, headache, and nervousness or irritability
  • Gastrointestinal upset, including nausea and vomiting
  • Immune system responses, such as an allergic rash with or without pruritus (itching)
  • Blood cell changes, including leukopenia and hemolytic anemia
  • Liver impacts such as jaundice

Although rare, the signs of a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis have been reported with Skelaxin. Signs of an anaphylactic reaction include: 

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Drowsiness and dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


Skelaxin may enhance the effects of alcohol and other CNS depressants. It may impair mental and/or physical abilities required for performing hazardous tasks, such as operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle, especially when used with alcohol or other CNS depressants.

Serotonin syndrome is a rare but serious and potentially fatal complication caused by Skelaxin overdose, or by taking multiple drugs together that all affect your body's serotonin level. A number of drugs, including tramadol, have been known to cause this effect when taken with metaxalone.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. Metaxalone.

  2. NIH. PubChem. Metaxalone.

  3. Fudin J, Raouf M. A Review of Skeletal Muscle Relaxants for Pain Management. Pract Pain Manag. 2016;16(5).

  4. Witenko C, Moorman-li R, Motycka C, et al. Considerations for the appropriate use of skeletal muscle relaxants for the management of acute low back painP T. 2014;39(6):427-35.

  5. Pfizer. SKELAXIN- metaxalone tablet.

  6. Soprano SE, Hennessy S, Bilker WB, Leonard CE. Assessment of Physician Prescribing of Muscle Relaxants in the United States, 2005-2016. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Jun 1;3(6):e207664. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.7664. 

  7. Bosak AR, Skolnik AB. Serotonin syndrome associated with metaxalone overdose. J Med Toxicol. 2014 Dec;10(4):402-5. doi:10.1007/s13181-014-0404-5.

By Carol Eustice
Carol Eustice is a writer covering arthritis and chronic illness, who herself has been diagnosed with both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.