Everyone one of us experiences some pain or distress in our muscles at some point in our lives. This pain in muscles or simply called it as “muscular pain” or “muscle aches” or medically called it “myalgia” can be triggered by amplified physical activity, stress, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal variations, and dehydration. Since almost every part of the body has muscle tissues, this type of pain can be felt almost anywhere.
In today’s article, we highlight some of the main causes of muscular pain as well as treatments.
What are the different causes of muscular pain?
Exercise: Frequently, muscular pain occurs when a person starts any new exercise or has extended the duration and intensity of the on-going exercise regime. In this situation, the muscles work harder that causes very little damage to the muscles fibers and this result in pain, soreness or stiffness. Sometimes, this condition is called “delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)”. Any type of movement can cause DOMS, but usually, itis caused by doing push-ups and squats, using weights and jogging or running the downhill.
Some common causes: Usually, people who are experiencing muscular pain can easily identify the underlying cause because the pain mostly occurs due to taking too much tension, stress or doing too much physical activity. Some common causes of muscle pain include the muscle tension that occurs in one or different areas of the body, the overuse of muscles during an exercise or any other physical activity, and the injury to the muscle that occurs while doing an exercise or any physically challenging work.
Medical conditions: Not all the muscular pain is caused by tension, stressor exercise; sometimes a medical condition can also play a role. These medical conditions that may cause muscle pain are fibromyalgia, infections such as polio, flu, or bacterial infections, certain autoimmune diseases such as lupus, polymyositis, and dermatomyositis, using certain drugs or medications such as cocaine, statins, or ACE inhibitors, thyroid problems like hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, and hypokalemia (disorder with low potassium level).
What are the treatments of muscular pain?
Muscle ache treatment options include medical treatment, home treatment, and self-care measures.
Medical treatments for muscle aches: Over-the-counter (OTC) pains relievers that can provide relieve include Acetaminophen or Tylenol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen or naproxen and prescription pain relievers.
If the pain doesn’t go away with the pain medications then the doctor refers the patient to the chiropractor – a pain management expert – who uses certain types of physical therapies or medicines to cure the underlying cause of the muscle pain.
Home treatments for muscle aches: Usually, muscular pain responds well to the home treatments. Following are some measures that you can take to relieve the muscle discomfort from overusing or injuries:
- Rest the specific area/part of the body where you are having pains or aches
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil)
- Apply ice to the affected area/part to get relief from pain and to reduce inflammation
- Apply ice packs for 1 to 3 days and use heat packs when the pain doesn’t go after three days
Some other muscle pain relief measures include:
- Stretch the muscles gently
- Avoid weight-lifting and high-impact activities until the pain in the affected muscle goes away
- Give enough time to yourself for rest
- Do activities for relieving stress and tension and exercises such as meditation or yoga
Self-care for muscle pain: The most important self-care measure to take for muscle aches is the “RICE” (rest, ice, compression, elevation) routine. It means:
- Rest: avoid extra exercise for 48 to 72 hours.
- Ice: put on ice or a cold pack on the affected area for about 10 to 20 minutes.
- Compression: use a stable elastic pressure bandage on the affected area to provide support and reduce the inflammation.
- Elevation: keep the affected area/body part elevated to help reduce the swelling.
Never put ice right onto the skin, instead use an ice/cold pack, or simply wrap ice in a cloth.
After 72 hours, the damaged tissues normally start to heal, and heat and kneading may then be applied. It is better to check with a chiropractor before starting an initial heat treatment and physical activity, to avoid the risk of further tissue damage.
When to see the doctor for muscular pain?
It is not necessary that muscular pains are always harmless and in some cases, home treatment is not enough to cure the underlying cause. You should see the doctor when:
- The pain is not going away after a few days of using the home treatments
- A severe muscle pain that occurs without any clear cause
- A muscle pain that happens along with the rash
- A muscle pain that happens after the tick bite (ticks are blood-sucking, small bugs)
- The affected area develops swelling or redness
- Pain that happens after any change you gets in your medications
- Pain that happens with a high temperature
The symptoms along with the muscle pain that need an immediate medical intervention include water retention or reduction in urine, vomiting, fever, difficulty in swallowing and breathing, stiffness in the neck region and inability to move the area that is affected.
Normally, muscular pain can go away on its own or with the home treatments and self-care measures but if the pain doesn’t go away after using the home treatments, consulting the doctor is the right option.
If you are experiencing muscular pain that is not going away and you are worried about unexplainable or long-term pain then you should seek the consultation of Dr. Ashley N. Cruz who provides a customized muscle pain treatment plan that not only gets you out of pain but also helps you to prevent the pain. You can book an appointment online by visiting our website or simply call 212-967-1448 for immediate help.