Can Diazepam (Valium) be taken for Relieving Pain?

Finding a suitable treatment for chronic pain can be a very difficult task for doctors.  The most potent pain relieving drugs, such as narcotics, eventually will lead to a drug tolerance and dependence.  Over the long term, this can lead to very severe problems including a drug addiction. Yet, pain must be treated – and not just for the patient’s comfort.  High levels of pain can disrupt the natural balance of chemicals in the nervous system and lead to problems like mood disorders.

Diazepam is not a pain reliever drug.  However, there are some situations in which doctors may decide to prescribe Diazepam for pain rather than other drugs like narcotics.  Unlike most pain medicines which act on pain receptors, Diazepam acts on GABA receptors.  GABA is the body’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, meaning that it blocks nerve signals so the body stays calm.  Most commonly Diazepam is prescribed for treating anxiety, insomnia, or alcohol withdrawal.

Because of its calming effects, Diazepam (Valium) will also relax muscles.  This does not directly relieve pain but it can help alleviate some of the pain associated with muscular conditions, like neurological disorders or injuries. If you have pains from muscular spasms, then Diazepam is one of the best treatment choices because of the muscle relaxing properties.

In many cases, patients suffering from pain find it difficult to sleep.  Since narcotics should be used as rarely as possible and in the lowest dosage amounts in order to avoid tolerance and dependence, you may not be able to take your pain medicine every night.  This creates a Catch-22 because, without your pain medicine, you won’t be able to sleep and recover as quickly.  But, if you take your pain medicine every night, then it may lose efficacy.  If your pain condition is causing insomnia, then you should make sure your doctor knows this because you may be prescribed Diazepam (Valium) instead of a narcotic.

With Diazepam, there is still a risk of tolerance and dependence, just like with narcotics and many other pain killers.  However, Diazepam generally has a lower risk than these other pain medications. It has been found safe for use up to 4 months.  There are no studies showing whether Diazepam is safe to use for longer than 4 months so patient’s individual doctors will have to monitor usage.

Just because Diazepam acts very differently than pain killers, it does not mean that you can use Diazepam with pain killers.  The combination of these drugs could result in a serious interaction.  Even if you do not experience a serious physical interaction, the combination of Diazepam (Valium) and pain killers is likely to cause extreme drowsiness, loss of coordination, and slowed reaction time.  Patients could easily experience an accident from these side effects, and a serious injury could results from something as simple as a slip and fall.  Since pain patients are usually in recovery from injury or illness, their bodies are already weak and an accident could just worsen the problem.