Muscle pain originates in any of the muscles in the body. The medical term for muscle pain is myalgia. Muscle pain may arise due to injury or overexertion, infections of the soft tissues, or inflammatory conditions. A number of conditions can be associated with generalized aches and pain, such as influenza, that are perceived to be muscle pain. Muscle pain can be localized to one muscle group or diffuse, involving multiple muscle groups. Muscle pain due to injury or overuse is most commonly localized to one area. Depending upon the cause, muscle pain can be mild or severe and debilitating. Muscle pain is the hallmark symptom of some chronic conditions like fibromyalgia. Related symptoms that can occur with muscle pain are
- redness, or
Other Causes of Muscle Pain (Myalgia)
- Ciguatera Poisoning
- Electrolyte Imbalance
- Medication Side Effects
- Muscle Abscess
- Muscle Rupture
- Viral Infection
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Main Article on Muscle Pain (Myalgia)
Causes of Muscle Pain (Myalgia)
The bacteria Brucella causes brucellosis, an infectious zoonotic disease in humans. Symptoms and signs include fatigue, fever, sweating, and appetite loss. The preferred treatment is doxycycline and rifampin taken for six to eight weeks.
The bacteria Capnocytophaga canimorsus is common in the mouths of cats, people, and dogs. People with weak immune systems are at risk for contracting Capnocytophaga infections. Antibiotics can kill this bacteria.
Chikungunya Virus (Chikungunya Infection)
Chikungunya virus is an infection spread (transmitted) through a bite from an infected mosquito. Common symptoms of Chikungunya virus infection include joint pain, headache, rash, and fever. There is no drug or vaccine available to treat or prevent Chikungunya virus infections. Some medicines and home remedies may help relieve symptoms of Chikungunya virus infection.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or SEID)
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) is a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that lasts six months or longer, is not improved by bed rest, and may be worsened by physical or mental activity.
Intermittent claudication, or pain and cramping in the lower leg is caused by inadequate blood flow to the leg muscles. This lack of blood flow causes a decrease in oxygen delivered to the muscles of the legs. Claudication is generally felt when walking and decreases with rest. In severe cases, claudication may be felt at rest. Narrowing of arteries cause claudication. Treatment includes exercise, medication, and in some cases surgery.
Cold vs. Flu
Though the common cold and flu share many signs and symptoms, they are caused by different viruses. Signs and symptoms include sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, and cough. Treatment options for the cold and flu are similar and focus on reducing symptoms. Doctors may prescribe antivirals/neuraminidase inhibitors for the flu.
Dengue fever is contracted from the bite of a striped Aedes aegypti mosquito. Symptoms and signs of dengue include headache, fever, exhaustion, severe joint and muscle pain, rash, and swollen glands. Since dengue is caused by a virus, there is no specific medicine to treat it. Treatment instead focuses on relieving the symptoms.
Dystonia disorders cause involuntary movements and prolonged muscle contraction, resulting in twisting body motions, tremor, and abnormal posture. There are many forms of dystonia. Some types of dystonia respond to dopamine, or can be controlled with dedative-type medications, or surgery.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and tender points. Stress reduction, exercise, and medication are the standard treatments for fibromyalgia.
Influenza (flu) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. The flu may be prevented with an annual influenza vaccination.
Heat cramps usually affect people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity or work in a hot, humid environment. Symptoms of heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms, usually in the abdomen, arms or legs that occur in association with strenuous activity. Heat cramps are part of a group of heat-related illnesses. Heat cramps can sometimes lead to heat exhaustion or, in severe instances, heat stroke, which is a true medical emergency.
Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement fluids. Warning signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and fainting. A person suffering from heat exhaustion should stop the activity are doing, move to a cooler environment, and rehydrate with liquids, for example, water or sports drinks. Complications of heat exhaustion are dehydration, muscle weakness, nausea, and vomiting. Heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke (a medical emergency) if not treated.
Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM)
Inclusion body myositis (IBM) is a progressive muscle disorder characterized by muscle inflammation, weakness, and atrophy (wasting). It is a type of inflammatory myopathy. IBM develops in adulthood, usually after age 50.
Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE)
Systemic lupus erythematosus is a condition characterized by chronic inflammation of body tissues caused by autoimmune disease. Lupus can cause disease of the skin, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, and nervous system. When only the skin is involved, the condition is called discoid lupus. When internal organs are involved, the condition is called systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness, which is spread by ticks when they bite the skin. Initially the disease affects the skin causing a reddish rash associated with flu-like symptoms. It takes weeks to months after the initial redness of the skin for its effects to spread throughout the body. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. Lyme disease can be prevented by using tick avoidance techniques.
Malaria is a disease that is spread by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. Malaria symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, and body aches. Treatment involves supportive care and antibiotics.
Muscle cramps are involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscles that do not relax. Extremely common, any muscles that have voluntary control, including some organs, are subject to cramp. Since there is such variety in the types of muscle cramps that can occur, many causes and preventative medications are known. Stretching is the most common way to stop or prevent most muscle cramps.
Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is a disorder of the muscles and joints that causes pain and stiffness in the arms, neck, shoulders, and buttocks. Treatment for polymyalgia rheumatica aims to reduce inflammation with aspirin, ibuprofen, and low doses of cortisone medications.
Polymyositis is a disease of the muscle featuring inflammation of the muscle fibers. It results in weakness of the muscles which can be severe and when associated with skin rash, is referred to as dermatomyositis. Although the cause of this disease is unknown, diagnosis includes physical examination of muscle strength, blood tests for muscle enzymes, electrical tests of muscle and nerves, and conformation by a muscle biopsy. Treatment of polymyositis and dermatomyositis includes high doses of cortisone-related medications, immune suppression, and physical therapy.
Post-polio syndrome (PPS) is a group of signs and symptoms that show up two to four decades after the initial polio infection. Symptoms of PPS include fatigue, pain, sleep disorders, muscle twitching, gastrointestinal problems, and weakness. Treatment focuses on slowing down to conserve energy and relieving symptoms with pain relievers.
Rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted via the bite of an infected animal. Symptoms include fever, headaches, and weakness. Treatment involves a series of injections: rabies immune globulin and four rabies vaccines administered over 2 weeks.
Rhabdomyolysis is a rapid deterioration and destruction of skeletal muscle. Some of the causes of rhabdomyolysis include: severe burns, muscle trauma, coma, seizures, electrolyte imbalance, medications (statins), viruses, and bacteria. Treatment of rhabdomyolysis depends on the cause.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease. The 16 characteristic early RA signs and symptoms include the following. Anemia Both sides of the body affected (symmetric) Depression Fatigue Fever Joint deformity Joint pain Joint redness Joint stiffness Joint swelling Joint tenderness Joint warmth Limping Loss of joint function Loss of joint range of motion Many joints affected (polyarthritis)
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a tick-borne disease that causes symptoms and signs such as fever, rash, headache, and muscle aches. The antibiotic doxycycline is the standard treatment for Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Sprains and Strains
An injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be caused by repetitive movements or a single stressful incident. Symptoms and signs include pain and swelling. Though treatment depends upon the extent and location of the injury, rest, ice, compression, and elevation are key elements of treatment.
Still's disease (systemic-onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) is a disorder characterized by inflammation with high fever spikes, fatigue, salmon-colored rash, and/or arthritis. Though there have been several theories regarding the cause(s) of Still's disease, the cause is not yet known. Many symptoms of Still's disease are often treatable with anti-inflammatory drugs.
Stress occurs when forces from the outside world impinge on the individual. Stress is a normal part of life. However, over-stress, can be harmful. There is now speculation, as well as some evidence, that points to the abnormal stress responses as being involved in causing various diseases or conditions.
Trichinosis Worm Infection
Trichinosis is a food-borne disease caused by ingesting parasites (roundworms) in undercooked pork or wild-game meat. Symptoms of trichinosis include diarrhea, nausea, muscle aches, itching, fever, chills, and joint pains.Trichinosis usually resolves without treatment, but more severe cases are treated with thiabendazole (Mintezol), albendazole (Abenza), or mebendazole (Vermox).
Examples of Medications for Muscle Pain (Myalgia)
- acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Ext, Little Fevers Children's Fever/Pain)
- Benzodiazepines vs. Cyclobenzaprine
- Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) vs. amitriptyline (Elavil)
- Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) vs. carisoprodol (Soma)
- Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) vs. naproxen (Aleve)
- Cyclobenzaprine vs. Norco (hydrocodone acetaminophen)
- Cyclobenzaprine vs. Xanax (alprazolam)
- Cyclobenzaprine vs. Zanaflex
- ibuprofen (Advil, Children's Advil/Motrin, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever, and others)
- Ketorolac vs. diclofenac
- Ketorolac vs. ibuprofen (Advil)
- Ketorolac vs. ketoprofen
- Ketorolac vs. naproxen (Aleve)
- naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)
- Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- orphenadrine (Norflex)
- Oxycodone vs. Codeine