Muscle pain (myalgia) is a common complaint and is most frequently related to overuse or muscle injury from unaccustomed exercise or work. In these situations the cause of the muscle pain is fairly obvious. However, muscle pain can accompany many other conditions such as infectious disease, autoimmune disease, parasitosis and other problems. Muscle pain may accompany other symptoms such as joint pain (arthralgia), fever, or general ill feeling (malaise).
Please note that it is extremely important to obtain an accurate diagnosis before trying to find a cure. Many diseases and conditions share common symptoms: if you treat yourself for the wrong illness or a specific symptom of a complex disease, you may delay legitimate treatment of a serious underlying problem. In other words, the greatest danger in self-treatment may be self-diagnosis. If you do not know what you really have, you can not treat it!
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Muscle injury may result from exercise or overuse. It takes about 48 hours for a muscle to heal from minor overuse. Any time that the muscles are sore following exercise, it indicates some extent of muscle damage.
Some of the most common causes are:
- Tension or stress
- Overuse: using a muscle too much, too soon, too often
- Injury or trauma including sprains and strains
- Autoimmune disorders such as polymyositis or dermatomyositis
- Infections/infestations of the muscle such as staphylococcal abscess (pyomyositis) or trichinosis
- Generalized infections such as influenza, malaria, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, polio, leptospirosis, rat bite fever, measles or rheumatic fever
- Drugs including amphotericin B, carbinoxolone, chloroquine, clofibrate, corticosteroids or hydroxychloroquine.
Treatment & Prevention
For muscle pain, both rest and exercise are important. Muscle aches from overuse and trauma often respond well to cold and/or warm compresses, massage, and temporary decreased use or rest. Heat, warm baths, massage, and gentle stretching exercises after a rest period should be used as frequently as possible. Regular exercise (slowly increased from very gentle to more vigorous) may help restore the proper muscle tone (walking, cycling, and swimming are recommended).
Muscular aches associated with specific diseases are best controlled by treating the primary illness according to instructions given by your health care provider.
See a doctor if the muscle pain persists beyond 3 days or there is severe, unexplained muscle pain especially if accompanied by other unexplained symptoms.