Muscle Pain Relief or Muscle Strain Relief

Also known as: Pulled muscle, stiff muscles, muscle sprain, myalgia, myodynia, myositis, myofascial pain syndrome, exercise-induced myalgia, delayed-onset myalgia, sore muscles, muscle cramps.

Definition: Muscle pain or muscle strain is pain in one or more muscle groups sometimes associated with swelling and tenderness of the muscle and may involve the outer covering of the muscle (muscle fascia), tendons, and ligaments.

Muscle Pain or Muscle Strain Information

Overview: Usually brief episodes of pain
By far, the most common cause of muscle pain or myalgia is muscle strain, which is actually a result of tiny tears of the muscle fibers usually caused by overstretching or excessive stress on the muscle. Muscle strain usually follows sudden heavy work such as lifting, or athletic activity. Muscle strain occurs more commonly in muscles that are poorly conditioned or not warmed up adequately. Usually, in cases of minor muscle strain, the pain and tenderness of the muscle is delayed for 24 or 48 hours and most resolve in a few days. More severe muscle strains, caused by larger tears of the muscle groups, usually referred to as pulled muscles, result in sudden severe cramping or burning pain of the injured muscle group. The torn muscle may actually bleed under the skin resulting in bruising spreading around the skin overlying the muscle. Severe muscle injuries may even result in strained or torn tendons, strain or toedrn ligaments, or broken bones requiring medical treatment and weeks or months to improve. Muscle strain can be recurrent and can interfere with performance of the competitive athlete.

Chronic pain related to other medical conditions more disabling
Muscle strain is a common cause of neck pain following whiplash injuries. Myalgias are commonly associated with systemic viral infections such as influenza or fevers. Muscle pain may be associated with many other medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Muscle pain, muscle cramping, or muscle spasm may also occur when nerves are irritated or damaged, known as neuropathy, such as with radiculopathy from intervertebral disc disease or spinal stenosis. In some cases involving medical conditions that are difficult to treat such as neuropathies or conditions that have no cure, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), muscular dystrophy, or dystonia, muscle pain may become a chronic condition, resulting in severe pain and loss of function.

Muscle Pain or Muscle Strain Symptoms

Symptoms include aches, cramps, tenderness, loss of function, and sometimes atrophy. Most cases of muscle pain involve localized aches or cramps in the involved muscle group, aggravated with movements of the muscle group, tenderness, and swelling of the muscle group. Usually the muscle pain is isolated to the injured group of muscles. However, when muscle pain is associated with other medical conditions, the pain, cramping, swelling, and tenderness may involve any muscle group and may even migrate from one muscle group to another. With chronic muscle pain, the loss of function may result in a deterioration of the muscle group called muscle atrophy.

Muscle Pain or Muscle Strain Treatments

Most causes of muscle pain due to minor muscle strain resolve spontaneously. However, the treatment most commonly recommended includes rest of the muscle, ice for the first 24 hours to relieve swelling, heat after 24 hours to improve blood flow and healing, and anti-inflammatory medications. The pain due to more severe muscle injuries may require more aggressive treatments and a long period of rehabilitation with physical therapy. Chronic muscle pain due to medical conditions that are difficult to treat or have no cure at all are extremely challenging to treat. Severe muscle tears or tears involving tendons, ligaments, or bones may require professional medical care including surgery. Because of the possibility of life threatening medical conditions such as infection or cancer, muscle pain or muscle swelling that does not resolve within a few weeks should always be evaluated by a qualified medical physician.

The standard treatments for severe or chronic muscle pain are over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription narcotic and non-narcotic medication, rest, physical therapy, steroid injections and nerve blocks. As most patients who suffer with this type of pain soon realize, these treatments are usually not sufficient and many, especially the oral medications, are associated with serious side effects such as sedation, nausea, constipation, and even addiction. Extended use of some over-the counter (OTC) medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen may even result in stomach ulcers, kidney failure, heart failure, and liver failure. Many sufferers of muscle pain often search for alternative solutions to the usual over-the-counter and prescription medications. Sudden severe pain, especially in the chest, arms, or head, pain associated with fever, numbness or weakness, or pain in any area of the body that does not resolve after a couple of weeks, should always be evaluated by a physician to be certain that other medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, infections, or even cancer is not the underlying cause of pain.

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