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What causes muscle pain?

What causes muscle pain?
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You know that playing tennis all weekend will leave you sore on Monday or that putting in that extra tough workout in the gym is going to make you pay later when going downstairs (oh, your quads!). When you perform activity above and beyond what your body is accustomed to, “a byproduct of energy use is produced, called lactic acid, which is a chemical that causes soreness,” explains physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, Dr George Kannankeril. Lactic acid usually dissipates in about an hour, but delayed onset muscle soreness can last for one or two days.

But it should go away

But it should go away
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Muscle soreness is likely normal if you can pinpoint the reason for the ache (like you did a bunch of bicep curls yesterday) and if it dissipates over time. The pain should clear up after a couple days, or with one to two weeks at most, says Dr Kannankeril.

Check out these daily habits that keep your muscles strong.

When to worry

When to worry
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Has muscle pain been lingering longer than two weeks? Is it a sharp pain versus discomfort or aching? Is it limiting your ability to carry out your normal day-to-day tasks? These are all symptoms that should tip you off that there may be something more going on. If this is happening, make an appointment with your doctor, advises Dr Kannankeril.

It may be fibromyalgia

It may be fibromyalgia
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Fibromyalgia is a rheumatologic condition causes pain and tenderness throughout the body, as well as fatigue and sleep problems. You may also be able to point to an emotionally stressful situation that happened prior to the onset of pain, explains Dr Kannankeril. “Fibromyalgia causes very specific patterns of pain, including on both sides of the body and above and below the waist,” he says.

Here are some ways to manage chronic pain without drugs.

It can be arthritis

It can be arthritis
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You may think of arthritis as affecting the joints, but you can also feel it in your muscles. The simple function of muscles is to contract or relax. “When there’s pain in an area, muscles will automatically contract as a protective measure,” says Dr Kannankeril. If you have arthritis in your shoulder, for instance, your shoulder may go into painful muscle spasms.

Read on for the signs you think are arthritis – but aren’t.

It could be an infection

It could be an infection
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You’ve tried muscle soreness remedies but nothing is easing the pain. What’s more, the sore area is red or inflamed and you have a fever. Your doctor may want to evaluate you for a possible infection, especially if there’s no reason (like starting marathon training) to have muscle pain in the first place.

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It may be Lyme disease

It may be Lyme disease
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The bite of certain ticks may transmit bacteria that can cause the hallmark bullseye-like rash, although these ticks are predominantly found in the Northern Hemisphere. The problem is that the rash doesn’t always appear, so you have to be aware of the other early symptoms, including flu-like fever, fatigue, stiff neck and aches. If you experience any of these and you’ve been hanging out in possible tick-laden countries and places, such as hiking trails or campsites, talk to your doctor.

Check out these medical reasons you’re tired all the time.

It could be rhabdomyolysis

It could be rhabdomyolysis
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Extreme workouts like CrossFit are trendy right now, but there’s a real danger of overdoing it: rhabdomyolysis, (dubbed ‘rhabdo’ for short), a condition in which muscle tissue breaks down and releases a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream, possibly causing kidney damage. If muscle stiffness and aches are accompanied by weakness and tenderness and dark urine, call your doctor ASAP or seek emergency treatment.

It may be an inflammatory condition

It may be an inflammatory condition
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If you’re older than 65, your doctor may evaluate you for inflammatory muscle conditions, like polymyalgia rheumatica, says Dr Kannankeril. PMR involves aching and stiffness in the upper arms, neck, lower back and thighs. Symptoms can appear overnight and you may find that you suddenly have trouble getting dressed without help or that you can’t get in and out of your car. The cause is unknown and diagnosis can be tough; corticosteroids can help alleviate the stiffness that’s side-lining you.

Don’t miss these anti-inflammatory foods to eat to reduce pain.

You could have the flu

You could have the flu
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If you have the flu, you may be hit with a sudden fever, aching muscles, chills and sweats, headache, fatigue, congestion and a sore throat. Inflammatory proteins called cytokines break down muscle proteins, prompting soreness. If you’re at high risk for complications of the flu (for example, you’re 65 or older or are pregnant), see your doctor within 48 hours – you may be able to get an antiviral drug that can help you get better up to two days faster.

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