Muscle pain

Muscle pain is most frequently related to tension, overuse, or muscle injury from exercise or physically demanding work.

Muscle aches and pains are common and can involve more than one muscle at the same time. Muscle pain can also involve the soft tissues that surround muscles. These structures, which are often referred to as connective tissues, include ligaments, tendons, and fascia (thick bands of tendons).

These steps may help lower the risk for getting muscle aches:
  • Stretch before and after exercising.
  • Warm up before exercising and cool down afterward.
  • Drink lots of fluids before, during, and after exercise.
  • If you work in the same position most of the day (such as sitting at a computer), stretch at least every hour.
The most common causes of muscle aches and pains are:
  • Injury or trauma, including sprains and strains
  • Overuse: using a muscle too much, too soon before warming up, or too often
  • Tension or stress
Muscle pain may also be due to:
  • Certain drugs, including ACE inhibitors for lowering blood pressure, cocaine, and statins for lowering cholesterol
  • Electrolyte imbalance, such as too little potassium or calcium
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Infections, including the flu, Lyme disease,malaria, muscle abscess, polio, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, roundworm
  • Lupus
Call your health care provider if:
  • Your muscle pain lasts more than 3 days.
  • You have severe, unexplained pain.
  • You have any sign of infection, such as swelling or redness around the tender muscle.
  • You have poor circulation in the area where you have muscles aches (for example, in your legs).
  • You have a tick bite or a rash.
  • Your muscle pain is linked with starting or changing doses of a medicine, such as a statin.
Call 911 if:
  • You have sudden weight gain, water retention, or you are urinating less than usual.
  • You are short of breath or have difficulty swallowing.
  • You have muscle weakness or cannot move any part of your body.
  • You are vomiting, or have a very stiff neck or high fever.
Your health care provider will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your muscle pain, such as:
  • When did it start? How long does it last?
  • Where is it exactly? Is it all over or only in a specific area?
  • Is it always in the same location?
  • What makes it better or worse?
  • Do other symptoms occur at the same time, like joint pain, fever, vomiting, weakness,malaise (a general feeling of discomfort or weakness), or difficulty using the affected muscle?
  • Is there a pattern to the muscle aches?
  • Have you taken any new medicines lately?
Tests that may be done include:
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Other blood tests and possibly a test for Lyme disease or a connective tissue disorder
  • Physical therapy may be helpful.