Muscle aches and pains are common and can involve more than one muscle. Muscle pain also can involve ligaments, tendons, and fascia, the soft tissues that connect muscles, bones, and organs.
Muscle pain is most frequently related to tension, overuse, or muscle injury from exercise or physically-demanding work. In these situations, the pain tends to involve specific muscles and starts during or just after the activity. It is usually obvious which activity is causing the pain. Muscle pain also can be a sign of conditions affecting your whole body, like some infections (including the flu) and disorders that affect connective tissues throughout the body (such as lupus). One common cause of muscle aches and pain is fibromyalgia, a condition that includes tenderness in your muscles and surrounding soft tissue, sleep difficulties, fatigue, and headaches.
- Injury or trauma including sprains and strains
- Overuse: using a muscle too much, too soon, too often
- Tension or stress
Muscle pain may also be due to:
- Certain drugs, including:
- ACE inhibitors for lowering blood pressure
- Statins for lowering cholesterol
- Electrolyte imbalances like too little potassium or calcium
- Infections, including:
- Influenza (the flu)
- Lyme disease
- Muscle abscess
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Trichinosis (roundworm)
- Polymyalgia rheumatica
For muscle pain from overuse or injury, rest that body part and take acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Apply ice for the first 24 – 72 hours of an injury to reduce pain and inflammation. After that, heat often feels more soothing.
Muscle aches from overuse and fibromyalgia often respond well to massage. Gentle stretching exercises after a long rest period are also helpful. Regular exercise can help restore proper muscle tone. Walking, cycling, and swimming are good aerobic activities to try. A physical therapist can teach you stretching, toning, and aerobic exercises to feel better and stay pain-free. Begin slowly and increase workouts gradually. Avoid high-impact aerobic activities and weight lifting when injured or while in pain. Be sure to get plenty of sleep and try to reduce stress. Yoga and meditation are excellent ways to help you sleep and relax.
- Warm up before exercising and cool down afterward.
- Stretch before and after exercising.
- Drink lots of fluids before, during, and after exercise.
- If you work in the same position most of the day (like sitting at a computer), stretch at least every hour.
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