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What is Myalgia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Muscle aches and pains are common complaints and may result from sitting or standing for too long, bad posture, or some unusual movement or strenuous exercise. If your muscle pain or myalgia is chronic or severe and affects your normal movements and activities, or you have a condition, which is causing muscle pain, seek medical attention to prevent further complications. Visit Redefine Healthcare to consult pain management and rehabilitation specialists for accurate diagnosis and timely treatment of your symptoms. Dr. Eric Freeman comes up with the best treatment options and therapies to ease your muscle pain and ensure this pain does not recur or cause long-term effects.

Muscle pain is a commonly experienced problem. It can originate in any muscle of the body. The medical term for muscle pain is myalgia. This condition can be described as muscle pain, ache, and pain associated with ligaments, tendons, and the soft tissues that connect bones, organs, and muscles.

What Is Myalgia?

Myalgia or muscle pain is a sign of injury, infection, disease, or other health problems. You may feel a deep, steady ache or random sharp pains. Some people experience muscle pain all over, while others experience it in specific areas.

It is also important to note that everyone will experience muscle pain differently.


Who Can Get Muscle Pain?

People of all ages and genders can suffer from muscle pain or sore muscles. It can be anything from trying a new physical activity to switching up your exercise routine. Muscle aches may be felt 6 to 12 hours after a workout and may last up to 48 hours. You will feel the pain as your muscles heal and get stronger.

Causes of Myalgia

Myalgia can typically be localized to one area of the body, or groups of muscles. The most common causes of muscle pain are:

  • Stress
  • Overuse
  • Injuries
  • Tension
  • Infection
  • Mineral and vitamin deficiency

Systemic muscle pain can be caused by an illness, infection, or maybe a side effect of certain medications.

Other causes of myalgia include:

Many other diseases and conditions can lead to pain in the muscles, such as hyperthyroidism, influenza, and dystonia.

It is essential to know that acute myalgia is typically short-lived and can be managed easily. However, chronic myalgia is often the main symptom of muscle and bone conditions, which occur when the body mistakenly attacks healthy cells.

Signs and Symptoms of Myalgia

Depending on its causes, muscle pain can be mild or severe and in some cases, debilitating. Pain is the hallmark symptom of many chronic conditions. These symptoms can vary depending on the underlying causes or illness.

Symptoms of myalgia include:

  • Fever or chills if an infection causes your pain
  • Joint pain or weakness
  • Fatigue or feelings of being overtired
  • Depression
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Redness

These signs are associated with most chronic pain conditions. Muscle pain may be localized or widespread. It can be dull or sharp, mild or even severe. With myalgia, the pain can be different and may last a few minutes or continue for hours. The intensity or duration of your pain will depend on the varying factors causing it.

Performing your daily activities becomes a challenge with myalgia if you suffer from these symptoms, as they limit your movement. Recurring or persistent pain makes it tough for you to focus on the tasks and affects your life to a large extent.

Treating Myalgia

Muscle pain and discomfort that occurs from overuse or injury can be eased with rest and over-the-counter pain-relieving medications.

If pain is a result of an activity or acts like pulled or strained muscle, the best at-home treatment is the R.I.C.E. therapy:

  • Rest – Taking a break from regular, daily activities and resting the muscles.
  • Ice – Using ice on the affected area for 20-minute intervals throughout the day to keep the pain and inflammation down.
  • Compression – Putting on a compression bandage for reducing swelling.
  • Elevate – Elevating the affected area to help reduce swelling.

Applying ice within the first 24 to 72 hours of an injury can help to control the pain and inflammation and prevent it from aggravating. After some time, you can also use heat to soothe the muscles and increase flow of blood to the affected area for better healing.

Other ways to manage your muscle pain include:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers or NSAIDs
  • Massage
  • Gentle stretching

Myalgia caused by overuse or a condition like fibromyalgia responds well to massage or gentle stretching exercises. If your pain is severe, does not subside after three days, or there are signs of infection, schedule an appointment with a specialist.

When to Seek Medical Attention?

Medical attention is necessary if you experience unexplained muscle pain, soreness, or any symptoms of myalgia that do not go away with rest or pain-relieving medications. Myalgia can be a sign of an underlying condition that should be evaluated by a healthcare provider.

You must call your doctor in case of the following:

  • Your pain does not go away after a few days of rest and home treatment
  • Your pain is severe and has no known cause
  • You are developing a rash
  • You have been bitten by an insect
  • You see redness and swelling in the muscles
  • The pain is occurring despite the use of over-the-counter pain-relieving medications
  • You are developing a fever

It is essential to know that myalgia is itself a symptom and not a diagnosis. The doctor will look for the underlying condition that may have triggered the onset of your muscle pain. In rare cases, myalgia can also be a sign of a medical emergency.

If you are experiencing the following symptoms with aching muscles, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Water retention or decreased urine output
  • Problems swallowing
  • Trouble breathing or catching your breath
  • Neck stiffness
  • Weak muscles
  • Paralysis or inability to move the affected area

The doctor will make an accurate diagnosis based on your symptoms and condition to figure out the possible causes of your muscle pain. He will perform a physical examination and evaluate the affected area, muscle tone, strength, and stiffness to find out more about your condition.

He will also review your medical history to learn about any health issues you may have and if they could be responsible for your muscle pain. The physician may order blood and imaging tests, including x-rays and MRI, to diagnose and rule out causes of myalgia. He may also perform additional diagnostic testing depending on the condition he suspects to identify the problem and help you feel better as soon as possible.

Myalgia or severe muscle pain makes it difficult to be a part of activities you love as it may be resulting from muscle overuse, injury, infection, or an underlying medical condition that needs investigation and treatment. Timely diagnosis and early treatment increase your chances of recovery regardless of the causes of myalgia and prevent further complications. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Eric Freeman at Redefine Healthcare for expert guidance regarding your pain and other symptoms. He is a pain management and rehabilitation specialist and comes up with the best treatment plans to help you cope with pain safely and effectively.

Page Updated on Dec 15, 2022 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare


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Dr. Eric D. Freeman

Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a “top pain management doctor in New Jersey” and one of “America’s Top Physicians” for advanced sports injury treatments.

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