The medical term for muscle pain is called myalgia. Many kinds of diseases and conditions have muscle pain as a symptom. The pain could be acute or chronic that is short term or long term depending on the causes.

An overview of myalgia will help you understand it better and guide you when to seek proper medical help.

Symptoms of myalgia

Myalgia is usually indicated by deep muscle pain. Though the pain feels like a pulled muscle, when the condition is chronic, it can cause pain at rest and with movement.

Other symptoms include:

  • Tender and swollen muscles
  • Deeper muscle pain in a particular area or widespread pain
  • An aching sensation
  • Mild or severe pain that can last for a few minutes or linger constantly
  • Fever and  chills if there is an infection
  • Joint pain accompanied by muscle pain
  • Constant fatigue
  • A feeling of depression due to the pain

Causes of myalgia

When you exert yourself beyond a limit, it can lead to myalgia, though this condition is short-lived and can be managed very easily. When muscle pain is continuous, it is classified as chronic myalgia and will have long-term effects with widespread muscle pain.

Many times myalgia can be the side effect of medicines like statins (cholesterol medication). Specific glucocorticoids, immunologic drugs, and antimicrobials also cause myopathies. When you abruptly stop using opioids, caffeine or alcohol even that can trigger myalgia.

Conditions causing myalgia

Acute myalgia may be the symptom of certain acute conditions like:

  • Injury or overuse: The pain may be localized and affects only a few muscles and a small surrounding area.
  • Influenza: When the body is working to heal itself, it can lead to some muscle soreness.
  • Lyme disease: Caused by ticks, the disease causes flu-like symptoms and muscle pain.
  • Nutrient deficiencies: Several vitamin and mineral deficiencies cause muscle pain including Vitamin D deficiency.
  • Certain autoimmune diseases and musculoskeletal problems cause chronic myalgia.
  • Fibromyalgia: Results in widespread muscle pain that is throbbing, shooting or stabbing
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Results in inflammation in the joints, along with muscle pain.
  • Multiple Sclerosis: Muscle pain, stiffness, and involuntary muscle spasms are common
  • Depression: One of the physical sign of depression can be unexplained muscle pain

When to seek medical help?

Mostly pain due to myalgia can be managed at home, but it can be a sign that there is some underlying problem. It is better to seek medical help if:

  • Pain does not subside after a few days
  • The cause of muscle pain is unknown
  • If you are bitten by a tick and you experience muscle pain
  • There is redness and swelling int he pain area
  • If you have a fever for a few days along with pain

The diagnosis

We know that myalgia is just a symptom of an underlying condition and so needs to be looked into. This is particularly if muscle pain is accompanied by inflammation. The tests will confirm the underlying condition for which treatment has to be initiated, and this will lead to a solution for muscle pain.

The treatment

The most common treatment is specialized physical therapy. The therapist helps you manage stress and focus on ergonomics to improve workplace and home risks or injury. If the doctor feels the physical therapy alone is not working then medications help manage the pain. In few cases pain injections and anti-inflammatory drugs are given directly to the pain area, which reduces the pain.

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