Muscle aches
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Muscle aches are a common symptom experienced by all people of all races. It is also known as myalgia or muscle pain which involves one or more muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, soft connective tissues, bones and organs. The symptom basically can stem from a variety of diseases and conditions. Muscle aches may last anywhere from a few seconds up to several days depending on the extent and severity of injury. The condition is not considered a medical emergency but special attention should always be given to patients since it might be a presenting symptom of a more serious illness.

Some types of muscle aches can be relieved by simply immobilizing the affected part. In some cases, pain may be felt at a remote location other than the affected area. Certain movements may make the pain worse or help relieve it. Some doctors can hone in their diagnosis on a particular condition by determining the type and location of muscle aches. Most commonly, the condition is caused by overstretching, overuse, tension or injury due to physical activity or work that the person may not be usually accustomed to.


Several accompanying symptoms may be present along with muscle aches depending on the main cause and underlying conditions. The pain can be part of an inflammatory response by the body wherein swelling or edema of the affected parts is noticeable as well as redness, feeling of warmth and difficulty in movement. The person may experience sudden weight changes such as gain followed by loss or vice-versa, hair loss on the affected area may be present together with palpable nodules under the skin. Bruising or internal bleeding may also be seen at the injured area together with low-grade fever and body malaise or generalized feeling of weakness.

Skin rashes may also develop together with neurological symptoms like numbness, tingling sensations at the extremities, burning or hot flushes, headaches, dizziness and vomiting. Joint or bone pain may be felt if the injury is extensive reaching ligaments, tendons and bones. In rare occasions, the person may also exhibit abnormalities in breathing, pulse and digestion. White blood cell count may be elevated due to the presence of microorganisms. Other associated symptoms include hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, sensitivity to odors, dry eyes, dry mouth, irritability, anxiety, depression, vision changes and trigger point pain.


Muscle aches may be categorized according to the type of damage incurred or cause. Usual causes of the problem include excessive exercise that result to overstretching, muscle fatigue, muscle injury, muscle strain, muscle cramps and unaccustomed exertion. Bacterial and viral infections may also trigger muscle pain and spasms. Fibromyalgia is a condition that leads to tenderness in various muscle points. Arthritis, thyroid disease, chronic fatigue syndrome and depression may also predispose a person to generalized feelings of weakness and lethargy.
Muscle aches
Image: Muscle Aches

Metabolic disorders may trigger cramping. Dermatomyositis can lead to multiple muscle cramps as well as polymyositis and polymyalgia rheumatica. Tetanus results to muscle stiffness, partial immobility, numbness and intermittent throbbing pain. Diabetes and diabetic ketoacidosis also causes hormonal and chemical imbalances that break down muscles and lead to cramps. Poor circulation and intermittent claudication as well as other circulatory disorders like deep vein thrombosis and stroke can lead to muscle aches. Other possible causative illnesses include gallbladder problems, fatty tumors and pulmonary disease. Myalgia is very common among TMJ patients and generally affects striated muscle tissue. Cardiac, smooth and striated muscle types function different so making them act otherwise will lead to painful sensations.

For muscle aches caused by certain diseases or disorders, treatment should be focused on the existing problem in order to alleviate the symptom. It is recommended that patients go through a series of diagnostic exams and physical assessment for doctors to have a full view of the extent and location of the injury. It also ensures that patients only take medications that are truly needed for their specific treatment regimen. Statin drugs and painkillers are usually indicated to help patients cope with the painful feelings and improve functionality and mobility.


Patients are indicated to eat a healthy and nutritious diet consisting of lots of calcium and protein in order to facilitate tissue repair and healing as well as control proper muscle contraction. Water will help improve circulation in the area as well as rotational exercises, mild stretching and light aerobics. Some individuals may be advised to avoid bearing too much weight on the affected part in the meantime. Sleep is also recommended preferably 8 to 10 hours every night to hasten recovery. Patients are usually infused with electrolytes and dextrose solution to maintain normal sugar levels to prevent muscle cramps.


Alternate hot and cold compress on the affected part will help reduce inflammation and improve blood flow. Other alternative treatment procedures include massage, acupressure, acupuncture and heating pads. Ideally, ice should be applied immediately during the first 1 to 3 days of injury to minimize pain. Afterwards, heat will help soothe and reduce inflammatory responses. As the person improves in strength and endurance, he or she may begin seeing a physical therapist to do some toning and flexibility exercises. Doctors may order more lab tests to ensure that blood cell count and other chemicals are within normal range and no underlying diseases are present.

Before engaging in any physical activity, make sure to do stretching exercises and warm up aerobically for 5 to 10 minutes to heat up muscles and increase their flexibility. Rotational exercises are helpful as well even when you’re not exercising since these improve range of motion. Cool down properly after working out as well for 5 to 10 minutes. Provide enough time to rest and catch your breath in between exercises. Consume a lot of calcium and protein-rich food and drinks to keep muscles strong. Fluids are also important to maintain normal circulation and avoid cramping. Anti-tetanus vaccinations are very useful to avoid complications and stay free from infectious types of muscle aches.
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