Muscle Pain

Muscle pain (also known as myalgia) is pain or tenderness in one or more muscles which can involve any area of the body. The pain can be localised to one muscle group or involve multiple muscle groups. Muscle pain due to injury or overuse is most commonly localised to one area.

Symptoms of muscle pain can include tenderness, swelling, redness or fever.

Localised muscle pain is commonly caused by

  • Stress
  • Overuse of a particular muscle group
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Sprains and strains
  • Muscle cramps
  • Excessive physical activity

Systemic muscle pain (pain affecting multiple muscle groups) can be caused by

  • Infections
  • Medication side effects
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Chronic medical conditions (for example chronic fatigue, lupus, multiple sclerosis)

Treatment of muscle pain

Muscle pain can be treated by resting any affected area of the body, taking an over the counter pain reliever or magnesium supplement, applying heat or ice to the area and participating in other therapies such as physiotherapy and massage.

Acute injuries

It is essential to follow the RICER method during the acute stage (first 24 to 48 hours) of any injury involving strain/sprain. It is important not to use heat in the first 72 hours as this can worsen inflammation. Heat is an effective treatment for muscle pain after the initial pain and swelling has subsided.  Heat therapy works by improving circulation and blood flow to a particular area due to increased temperature. Heat therapy can relax and soothe muscles and heal damaged tissue.

Over the counter treatments

Ask at your local pharmacy about relevant treatment for your injury. Some options include

  • Anti-inflammatories: Anti-inflammatories help to reduce swelling and inflammation that can result in muscle pain. They can be taken orally or applied topically to the skin for localised treatment at the site of the pain.
  • Menthol rubs: When Menthol is rubbed on the skin, it causes dilation of the blood vessels which gives feelings of comfort and warmth. When applied gently on the skin, it creates a feeling of coolness, and the mild local anaesthetic effect relieves itching.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium is essential for proper muscle function and acts to relieve tight, sore and cramped muscles. It controls muscle contraction and acts as a muscle relaxant.