Muscle pain, also known as myalgia is a type of musculoskeletal discomfort that will affect you at some point during your life. It may occur due to tension, injury, or overuse.
Myalgia can be described as muscle pains, aches, and pain associated with your tendons, ligaments, and the soft tissues that connect your bones, muscles, and organs.
You may have sore, aching muscles now and then and the pain can involve a small localized area of your body or groups of muscles.
It can also affect your entire body, ranging from dull or sharp, mild to excruciating severe pain.
Most of your muscle aches and pains may go away on their own within a short period of time. However, sometimes your pain may linger for months.
The pain can develop almost anywhere in your body, including your neck, hands, back, and legs.
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Signs and symptoms of muscle pain
Depending on the cause of your pain, muscle soreness can be mild or severe, and in some cases, painfully debilitating. Your pain may last for a few minutes or may remain constant.
- If your muscle soreness or pain is caused by an infection, you’re likely to have fevers or chills.
- Joint pain and weakness or fatigue can result from chronic pain in your muscles which has lasted for months or years.
If you have muscle soreness and you suffer from the symptoms listed above, it may become difficult for you to perform even basic daily activities.
Types of muscle pain
This type of pain is usually localized and affects just a few muscles or a small part of the muscles in your body. The most common causes of acute muscle soreness and pain are:
- minor injuries.
This is pain that occurs throughout your whole body, and more often results from:
- an illness
- an infection
- a side effect of a medication
- severe muscle pain in arms and legs.
Common reasons why you have muscle pain
So what causes muscle aches in your legs, neck, and other parts of your body? The most common causes include:
- Sprains – caused by a stretching or tearing of your ligaments, tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect two bones together in your joints. The most common location for a sprain is in your ankle.
- Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) – a gradual buildup of damage to your muscles, tendons, and nerves from repetitive motions. Activities which can cause RSIs include typing, training for sports, using a computer and working on an assembly line.
- Muscle cramp – a sudden, involuntary contraction of your muscle that occurs and doesntt relax.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – (chronic inflammatory joint disease, an autoimmune disorder that can affect more than just your joints).
- Influenza (flu) and other viral illnesses including coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Symptoms include aching muscles, among others.
- Medications, especially the cholesterol medications known as statins
- Chronic fatigue syndrome – a complicated disorder characterized by extreme fatigue and unexplained muscle or joint pain that lasts for at least six months.
- Fibromyalgia – a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, mood and memory problems.
- Lupus – a disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs (autoimmune disease). The inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different systems in your body, including your skin, joints, brain, kidneys, blood cells, heart and lungs.
- Lyme disease – a tick-borne bacterial illness which may result in bouts of severe joint pain and swelling affecting your knees. The pain can shift from one joint to another.
Muscle pain treatment
If your muscle soreness occurred during an activity, this usually signals a “pulled” or strained muscle. This type of injury usually responds well to R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) therapy:
Resting your body
If your muscle pain is caused by overuse or injury, you should get relief by resting your body. Take a break from your normal activities and rest.
Ice and heat treatment
Rotating between ice and heat therapy can help reduce your inflammation and muscle pain. These will soothe your muscles, releasing any tensions and knots in them causing you pain.
Use a compression bandage to reduce muscle swelling. They come in different lengths and widths to suit your individual needs.
Elevate the foot with the painful muscle, and this will reduce swelling.
Gentle stretching exercises
If you have a great workout, you may end up with muscle pain or soreness. Muscle soreness can occur 24 hours after your workout and can last anywhere from 2-5 days. This is completely normal.
There are some simple activities that can help provide temporary relief when you wake up with sore muscles. You should perform all exercises slowly and gently.
Gentle stretching exercises for muscle pain using an exercise band include:
- Shoulder stretches
- Quadriceps stretches
- Hamstring stretches
- Calf stretches
Swedish massage therapy
A Swedish massage helps to relax your entire body by rubbing your muscles in long, gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to your heart.
The benefits you get from a Swedish massage go beyond relaxation. It can help to increase the level of oxygen in your blood and improve blood circulation and flexibility in your muscles
Hot stone massage
A hot stone massage is best for you if you have pain and tension in your muscles. It’s also beneficial if you simply want to relax.
This type of therapeutic massage is similar to a Swedish massage, but your massage therapist uses heated stones in lieu of or in addition to their hands. You may also purchase a portable hot stone massage warmer set for home use.
Use the heated stone therapy massager in the comfort of your home to relieve pain caused by sprains and strains. It may help you melt away stress and soothe muscle tension, soreness, and stiffness.
Deep tissue massage
This uses more pressure than a Swedish massage and is your best option if you have chronic muscle problems. Deep tissue massages can help relieve tight muscles and chronic muscle pain.
A proficient massage therapist who specializes in deep massage therapy can offer this type of service to you.
Another option is to purchase a good muscle massage gun designed for deep massages. These are hand-held instruments that are designed to perform deep tissue massages. They allow you to reach most of your muscles, promoting circulation and softening muscle knots and bumps.
Over-the-counter pain relievers
You can relieve mild muscle soreness by taking over-the-counter pain relievers known as NSAIDs. These include Ibuprofen and Naproxen.
If your muscle pain doesn’t resolve with self-care as described above, you should see your doctor.