Muscle Aches : Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment
What does Muscle Aches mean?
Myalgia, often known as a muscle ache, is pain experienced in any muscle-containing body part. They are common, and almost everybody has once or twice experienced muscle pain. Muscle pain may feel like a dull or intense ache, cause tightness in a specific body part, or extend throughout the body. It could be minor or severe; in some situations, it might even make it hard for someone to move. It could start unexpectedly or get worse as time passes. Muscle discomfort affects everyone differently. The pain might vary significantly in intensity depending on what is causing it.
Symptoms of Muscle Aches
The following signs and symptoms might or might not be present in people with muscular aches:
- Pain in a specific body part.
- Stiff or weak affected part.
- Fever, redness, or swelling.
- Trouble breathing
- Whole body pain
- Muscle cramp
- Joint pain
- Skin rashes
What causes body Muscle Aches?
Muscle pain can be caused by :
- Muscles overuse
- Body Stress
- Muscle injuries
- Medications side effects
- Autoimmune disorders
- Neuromuscular disorders
- Other factors
Overuse of muscles
- Stiff, sore muscles can be caused by overdoing any activity, including exercise.
- Resuming training after a prolonged period of inactivity.
- Skipping stretching after a workout or failing to warm up before one.
- Exercising more vigorously or trying a new activity.
- Muscles stiffen when the body is stressed to guard itself from pain and injury.
- Long-term muscle tension can cause various bodily reactions and even encourage stress-related diseases.
- A sprain or a muscle strain may hurt.
- Traumatic injuries, including fractures.
- Bacterial and viral infections can cause a person’s body to hurt in addition to other symptoms such as fever, cold, etc. The common cold, flu, and Lyme illness are a few examples.
- The most common symptoms of HIV-infected people are fatigue and muscle pain.
Side effects of Medicines
Certain medications and treatments can cause temporary or long-lasting muscle pain and may include:
- Chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer.
- Statins are used to lower cholesterol levels.
- ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure.
- Cocaine or substance abuse.
Autoimmune disorders occur when the body’s immune system starts attacking itself.
Autoimmune diseases that can cause muscle aches may include:
- Myositis and polymyositis.
- Multiple sclerosis.
Muscle weakness and pain can result from neuromuscular disorders and may include the following:
- Muscular dystrophy.
- Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Other medical conditions causing muscle pain may include:
- Lack of sleep
- Nutritional deficiency
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Thyroid problems
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Muscle aches can also sometimes be unexplained in the arms and legs and could be due to the following reasons:
- Lack of blood supply to arms or legs during sleeping.
- Overstraining by carrying weights during the day.
- From wear and tear due to aging.
- A heart attack may also cause pain in the left arm or both arms.
People at risk
Everyone, from kids to older adults, can develop muscle aches. However, the following individuals may have an increased risk of developing muscle aches:
- Older adults.
- People doing jobs that involve repetitive movement or prolonged awkward postures could cause muscle pain – office workers, typists, laborers, carpenters, hairdressers, etc.
- Athletes or bodybuilders.
- Those who play contact sports like wrestling, football, boxing, soccer, etc.
- Women are nearing their menstruation. (PMS)
- Menopausal women.
- Cancer patients under treatment.
When to see a doctor?
People with muscle aches should consult a doctor if they experience any of the things mentioned below:
- If muscle pain lasts more than three days.
- High fever.
- A tick bite or a skin rash.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Pain restricting movement.
- Any redness or swelling.
- Stiff neck with a high fever.
- Urine volume reduction.
- Swelling of ankles or wrists.
- If a medicine is causing pain.
Diagnosis of Muscle Aches
The doctor may ask a few questions related to a person’s symptoms, their occupation, and other medical conditions or medications taken before doing a few tests to diagnose the cause:
Blood tests done to check
- Electrolyte levels
- And for infections
- X-ray to detect any broken bone near in case of traumatic injuries causing muscle pain.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or Computed topography (CT) scan – to check if there are any injury or damage to the muscles.
- Electromyography – measures electrical activity in muscles and nerves.
- Biopsy of the affected muscle to check for any changes in the tissue indicating neuromuscular diseases.
Treatment of Muscle aches
Depending on the cause, it may include both home remedies and medical management:
Home remedies to relieve muscle aches
The RICE therapy if there is a muscle injury
- Rest – Give the painful area enough rest and stop the activity that caused it.
- Ice – using ice can relieve inflammation and using heat can enhance blood flow to the affected part.
- Compression – To help reduce swelling, apply a compression bandage.
- Elevation – To reduce swelling, elevate the feet if at all possible.
- Take OTC pain relievers like ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen to relieve pain.
- Warm-water shower or a bath with Epsom salts are both recommended.
Depending on any underlying illnesses and infections, doctors may prescribe the following medications:
- Muscle relaxants – aid in calming tense muscles.
- Steroid medicines – reduce immunity in those with autoimmune diseases.
- Antibiotics – administered when bacterial illnesses occur.
- Antidepressants – occasionally prescribed to treat pain.
- Relaxing techniques – Meditation, yoga, etc.
Prevention of Muscle Aches
Some medical issues that cause muscle pain cannot be avoided. However, people can avoid aching muscles brought on by strain, stress, and vigorous exercise by carrying out the following:
- Warming up before physical activities and stretching to cool down after.
- Keeping muscles toned by exercising regularly.
- Drinking enough water to stay hydrated.
- Putting proper posture into practice.
- Taking frequent breaks if seated for long periods.
- Ensure that the house and office furniture provide adequate support and comfort.
- Wearing appropriate footwear while exercising or participating in sports activities.
- Avoiding extended periods of inactivity.
- To prevent muscular injuries, ease into new activities.
- Pay attention to your body signals and stop any activity that caused the pain.
Prognosis of Muscle Aches
Muscle aches or pain usually go away on their own. Simple home remedies like massage or moderate stretching can often be used to treat aches brought on by stress, overexertion, or minor injuries. Some lifestyle adjustments may help ease and avoid muscle discomfort and stiffness in long-term muscle pain or repeated events. There may be causes other than tension and exercise for painful muscles. If muscle pain doesn’t improve in a few days of rest and home remedies, one should visit a doctor as soon as possible. A doctor will treat the underlying cause and alleviate the muscle pain.