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Definition

What is muscle pain?

Muscle aches, or myalgia, are extremely popular. Most people has experienced discomfort in their muscles at some point.  Muscle pain can involve a small area or your whole body, ranging from mild to excruciating.

Although most muscle aches and pains go away on their own within a short time, sometimes muscle pain can linger for months. Muscle pain can spread almost anywhere in your body, including your neck, back, legs and even your hands.

How common is muscle pain?

This muscle pain is extremely common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of muscle pain?

The common symptoms of muscle pain are pain, aches or discomfort in of the muscles. Muscle aches and pains can involve more than 1 muscle. Muscle pain also can involve ligaments, tendons, and fascia because there is muscle tissue in nearly all parts of the body, this type of pain can be felt practically anywhere.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Pain that does not go away after a few days of home treatment.
  • Severe muscle pain that arises without a clear cause.
  • Muscle pain that occurs along with a rash.
  • Muscle pain that occurs after a tick bite.
  • Myalgia is accompanied by redness or swelling.
  • Pain that occurs soon after a change in the medications you take.
  • Pain that occurs with an elevated temperature.
  • Pain, especially in your calves, that occurs with exercise and resolves with rest.

Get emergency medical care if you have:

  • A sudden onset of water retention or a reduction in urine volume.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Vomiting or running a fever.
  • Trouble catching your breath.
  • Stiffness in your neck area.
  • Muscles that are weak.
  • Inability to move the affected area of the body.

Causes

What causes muscle pain?

The most well-known causes of muscle pain are tension, stress, overuse, and minor injuries. This type of pain is usually localized which affect just a few muscles or a small part of your body. Some common causes include:

  • Muscle tension in one or more areas of the body.
  • Overusing the muscle during physical activity.
  • Injuring the muscle while engaging in physically demanding work or exercise.

Systemic muscle pain — pain throughout your whole body — is more often the negative effect of an infection, an illness or a side effect of a medication. Common causes of muscle pain include:

  • Chronic exertional compartment syndrome;
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome;
  • Claudication;
  • Dermatomyositis;
  • Dystonia;
  • Fibromyalgia;
  • Hypothyroidism;
  • Influenza (flu);
  • Lupus;
  • Lyme disease;
  • Medications, especially the cholesterol medications known as statins;
  • Muscle cramp;
  • Myofascial pain syndrome;
  • Polymyalgia rheumatic;
  • Polymyositis;
  • Repetitive strain injuries;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis;
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Risk factors

What increases your risk for muscle pain?

There are many risk factors for muscle pain, such as:

  • Muscle injury: An acute muscle injury or continual muscle stress may lead to the development of ache and pain.
  • Repetitive motions and poor posture;
  • Stress and anxiety.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is muscle pain diagnosed?

Your health care provider will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your muscle pain, such as:

  • When did it start? How long does it last?
  • Where is it exactly? Is it all over or only in a specific area?
  • Is it always in the same location?
  • What makes it better or worse?
  • Do other symptoms occur at the same time, like joint pain, fever, vomiting, weakness, malaise (a general feeling of discomfort or weakness), or difficulty using the affected muscle?
  • Is there a pattern to the muscle aches?
  • Have you taken any new medicines lately?

Tests that may be done include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Other blood tests to look at muscle enzymes (creatine kinase) and possibly a test for Lyme disease or a connective tissue disorder

How is muscle pain treated?

Physical therapy can be recommended. However, your sore muscles might be due to something other than tension and physical activity. In this case, your doctor will  be able to advise you on how to fully resolve your muscle pain. The first priority will be to treat the primary condition.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage muscle pain?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with muscle pain immediately:

  • Rest: take a break from your normal activities.
  • Place an ice pack or bag of frozen peas on the sore area for 20 minutes several times a day.
  • Use a compression bandage to reduce swelling.
  • Elevation: elevating your foot to help reduce swelling.

Some measures you can take to relieve muscle discomfort from injuries and overuse include:

  • Resting the area of the body where you are experiencing aches and pains;
  • Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen;
  • Applying ice to the affected area to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. You should use ice for one to three days following a strain or sprain, and apply heat for any pain that remains after three days.

Other measures that may provide relief from muscle pain include:

  • Gently stretching the muscles;
  • Avoiding high-impact activities until after the muscle pain goes away.
  • Avoiding weight-lifting sessions until the muscle pain is resolved.
  • Giving yourself time to rest.
  • Doing stress-relieving activities and exercises such as yoga and meditation to relieve tension.

If your muscle pain is caused by tension or physical activity, take these measures to lower your risk of developing muscle pain in the future:

  • Stretch your muscles before engaging in physical activity and after workouts.
  • Incorporate a warm-up and a cool-down into all of your exercise sessions.
  • Stay hydrated, especially on days when you are active.
  • Engage in regular exercise to help promote optimal muscle tone.
  • Get up and stretch regularly if you work at a desk or in an environment that puts you at risk for muscle strain or tension.
  • People who work at a desk should make an effort to get up and stretch at least every 60 minutes.
  • If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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