Muscle Pain symptoms, causes and treatment

Muscle pain is perhaps one of the most common discomforts that both kids and adults have experienced in their lives. It is because muscle tissue is found in almost all the parts of the body, making us able to feel pain in any body part.

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Another term used for this is called myalgia.  

Feeling pain in the muscles can be caused by various reasons and can be an effect of several different factors. Myalgia can be a result of an injury due to exercise, sports, or other physical activities. Or it can also be due to tension resulting from these.

When you have muscle pain, there is that feeling that your muscles have been stretched or overworked, or your whole body can also feel some type of stiffness or aching.  

The pain felt because of myalgia can either be widespread or localized and can get worse with movement, this is why when you start to feel some pain in your muscles due to whatever activity that may be provoking it, it might be best to pause and stop doing the action for a while to prevent the pain from getting worse.

Myalgia comes with some symptoms that include: swelling, fever, redness, or tenderness.

Causes of Muscle Pain

Some common causes usually lead to muscle pain or myalgia. Still, there are other factors as well that are more serious and need a healthcare provider’s attention as home remedies will not merely work.  

The more serious causes can be behavioral disorders, autoimmune disorders, viral infection, bacterial infection problems, type of medication, neurological disease, and the like.

Common Causes

  • Tension in 1 or more parts of the body
  • Overuse of muscles during a physical activity
  • Stress
  • Minor injuries while doing a demanding physical business like sports or exercise.
  • Muscle cramp
  • Sprain
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Muscle rupture
  • Poor form or posture

Some signs for damage are cramping, swelling, bruising, weakness, and pain.

Chronic Disorders

  • Chronic exertional compartment syndrome commonly affects athletes and runners as this is an exercise-induced nerve and muscle condition that results in swelling, pain, or even disability in the affected muscle area.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Myofascial pain syndrome is a type of chronic pain disorder which causes pressure on the sensitive points in the muscles
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is a severe chronic inflammatory disorder that can damage other systems such as the skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs, and eyes other than the joints.


Autoimmune Disorders

  • Dermatomyositis
  • Polymyositis
  • Lupus

Thyroid Problems

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism

Other Types of Disorders

  • Neurological disorder
  • Dystonia, a type of movement disorder wherein the muscles contract involuntarily, causing muscle spasms whose range can vary from mild to severe. This condition can be painful and cause so much discomfort as it may interfere with your daily activities and tasks.
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica is a kind of inflammatory disorder that leads to stiffness in some body parts especially the shoulders and causes pain in the muscles

Other Conditions

  • Claudication happens when there is too little blood flow while doing exercise or physical activity, thereby affecting the blood vessels in the arms or the legs.
  • Skipping warm-ups and cool-downs
  • Muscle abscess
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Hypokalemia or having low potassium
  • Fibromyalgia, a musculoskeletal pain that is accompanied by mood, memory and sleep issues, and fatigue. The onset of this condition is usually after surgery, an infection, significant psychological stress, or physical trauma.
  • Ciguatera poisoning is a kind of food poisoning that is found in large reef fish.

Diagnosis and Treatment

As in the case of the causes of muscle pain, symptoms vary as well from one individual to another. Aside from pain, some people may experience sleep disturbances or fatigue, but common signs of muscle pain may include the feeling of muscles burning, twitching, or like they have been overworked or pulled.  

Usually, muscle soreness develops within 6 to 8 hours after a change in activity or if there is a new physical activity, especially one that requires demanding physical effort. Pain or soreness from this situation can last for about 24 to 48 hours, so if the muscle pain persists more than this period, do see a healthcare provider such as a rheumatologist as they specialize in treating and diagnosing disorders associated with muscles, pain in the joints, tendons, nerves, and bones as marked by inflammation, metabolic disease or degeneration.

Before you see your physician, make sure that you have a diary of your pain as the doctor will most probably ask you a list of questions such as:

  • When did the pain start?
  • What activity were you doing when it first happened?
  • Does the pain feel like stabbing, knifelike, or constant, dull, etc.?
  • Is the pain felt all over, or is there a specific point?
  • What is the level of pain?
  • Does it come and go?
  • Is it unpredictable, or is it triggered by a particular activity?
  • Do you have any mood changes?

Along with the series of questions related to the muscle pain, the doctor will most likely ask to perform some physical examinations, and if needed, may require you to have other diagnostic tests like:

  • X-ray
  • CAT scans
  • MRI
  • Bone survey

Knowing your medical history and the condition of the muscle pain combined with the result of the diagnostic exam will allow your doctor to have a proper diagnosis of your situation. It will then be able to provide the right type of treatment.

Depending on the nature of your condition, some possible treatments are:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Narcotics
  • Corticosteroids
  • Mobilization or manual therapy for those with spinal alignment problems
  • Injections with an anesthetic or anti-inflammatory medicines in or around the painful area
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Acupuncture or acupressure
  • Biofeedback techniques or relaxation
  • Osteopathic manipulation is wherein the entire system is evaluated and treated to maintain good health by restoring the body’s normal function
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Chiropractic care

If muscle pain arises from minor or joint issues, these home treatments may be implemented:

  • Rest the area of the body that experiences aches and pains
  • Take some over- the- counter pain reliever medicines such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, NSAID, or non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
  • You may also try putting ice on the affected area to reduce the inflammation and to relieve the pain. Use the ice for about 1 to 3 days after a sprain or strain in the muscle.
  • If there is still pain after three days, apply heat.
  • Gently stretch the muscles
  • Do some yoga, meditation or other stress-relieving activities
  • Do not engage in demanding physical work until the pain goes away
  • Take a lot of rest.
  • Take Vitamin D as it helps in reducing inflammation as well as regulates the immune system. It also helps in the absorption of calcium, which develops healthy bones and muscles.
  • Warm-up before doing any sports or exercise 
  • Maintain a proper posture
  • Keep yourself well- hydrated all the time

Foods to Eat:

  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Turmeric
  • Eggs
  • Protein shake
  • Berries
  • Probiotics

Natural Muscle Relaxer:

  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Coconut oil
  • Chamomile
  • Passionflower
  • Valerian

Once the doctor has prescribed a medication like ativan for treatment, take them exactly as directed, but if you start feeling some side effects, especially severe ones, discuss with your physician as soon as possible.

Normal Conditions

Having muscles that are in excellent and healthy condition is something that we always want to achieve because these soft tissues that are found in nearly all parts of our body are the ones responsible for allowing us to move correctly.  

When we do not experience any muscle pain, it means that:

  • there is no inflammation
  • no injury 
  • No other medical concern that we need to be anxious about.

Risks of Having Muscle Pain

Myalgia may be a common condition, but as in any other pain, when the symptoms continue to persist for more than 72 hours, or if it hinders you from doing your daily tasks and obligations, then it is something that you should be concerned about.

If muscle pain is left untreated, the condition may lead to severe muscle soreness and fainting, and the result may be dangerous and damaging.  

If the muscle pain worsens, the pain may also spread to the other areas of the body. And for severe cases, muscles can even breakdown and can make you very ill and cause damage to the kidneys.

People experiencing this kind of condition also have less mobility and tend to drink less, resulting in constipation.

When to Seek Medical Attention

For symptoms that do not go away for extended periods, it is always advised to see a doctor.  

Seek medical attention if:

  • you are experiencing dizziness
  • you are having trouble with your breathing
  • you have a stiff neck
  • you have a high fever
  • you are experiencing an extreme muscle weakness
  • you know that you have been bitten by a tick or feels that you have been
  • there is a pain in the calves that occurs while doing exercise but gets resolved with rest
  • you feel muscle pain after starting to take medications especially statins
  • you have severely swollen limbs
  • you have a dark-colored urine
  • you have an increased resting heart rate

Table of Medications

  • ibuprofen
  • naproxen
  • acetaminophen
  • diclofenac
  • Tylenol
  • Advil
  • Paracetamol
  • Tylenol Arthritis Pain
  • Voltaren
  • Anaprox