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Myalgia - Causes, Symptoms, Investigation and Management

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Myalgia - Causes, Symptoms, Investigation and Management

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Muscle pain or myalgia can be acute or short-term, such as when muscles hurt the next day after one exercise. To know more, read the full article below.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Published At August 10, 2022
Reviewed AtJanuary 5, 2024

What Is Myalgia?

Myalgia is a musculoskeletal pain seen in a muscle or a group of muscles. Aches and pains in the muscles are very prevalent. Ligaments, tendons, and fascia can all be involved in muscle pain.

What Is a Fascia?

Fascia acts as a connective tissue that is present around every part of the body. The main function of fascia is to provide support to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, nerves, joints, bones, and organs. If the fascia is healthy, it provides flexibility and strength.

Who Are Most Commonly Affected by Myalgia?

Any person of any age and gender can have musculoskeletal pain. When someone changes their physical activity or exercise routine, there will be delayed onset muscle soreness. Usually, muscle pain sets in within six to 12 hours and can last up to 48 hours. There may be pain as the healing of the muscle occurs and as the muscle gets stronger.

What Are the Causes of Myalgia?

  • Tension, overuse, or muscular injury from exercise or strenuous physical activity.

  • The activity that is generating the pain is frequently obvious.

  • Variety of diseases (including the flu) and connective tissue disorders (such as lupus).

  • Fibromyalgia, a disorder that causes discomfort in muscles and surrounding soft tissue, as well as sleep problems, exhaustion, and headaches, is one of the most prevalent causes of muscle aches and pain.

  • Drugs such as angiotensin-converting-enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, cocaine, and statins.

  • Dermatomyositis.

  • Electrolyte imbalance.

  • Polymyalgia rheumatica, polymyositis (both are inflammatory disorders affecting muscles), and rhabdomyolysis (a severe condition involving muscle breakdown and potential kidney damage).

Site: The pain is usually localized.

Onset and Duration: Begins during or shortly after the exercise.

What Form of Infection Can Cause Myalgia?

Bacterial and viral infections can result in body pain. Based on the cause of infection, the person may experience fever, swollen lymph nodes, and nausea. Some types of infection that can result in muscle aches are:

  • Cold and flu.

  • Lyme condition and Rocky Mountain spotted infection caused by tick bites.

  • Malaria.

  • A foodborne illness named trichinosis.

What Form of Injury Can Result in Myalgia?

When the person uses the same muscle during work or exercise all day, this can cause muscle pain due to overuse. Other forms of injury that can result in muscle soreness are:

  • Sprain.

  • Abdominal or back pain.

  • Broken bone.

  • Traumatic injuries can result in muscle pain.

  • Myofascial pain syndrome due to overuse of muscles.

  • Tendinitis (inflammation of the tendons).

What Are the Symptoms of Myalgia?

  • Joint Pain: Pain or discomfort in the joints of hands, feet, hips, knees, or spine. Pain may be constant or intermittent.

  • Muscle Cramps: Muscle contractions. They are also called muscle spasms or Charley horses. Usually, it heals by itself without any treatment.

  • Muscle Spasm: Painful muscle contractions and tightening of muscles. Muscle relaxants, stretching, and massage can help to relieve symptoms.

Are There Any Investigations to Diagnose Myalgia?

Usually, myalgia can be diagnosed with a proper clinical evaluation. There are few investigations to confirm the diagnosis of myalgia. Such as:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: To identify the presence of any muscle injury.

  • Electromyography: To study the damage to nerves and muscles.

  • Muscle Biopsy: To study the presence of neuromuscular diseases.

What Is Meant by Condition-Specific Testing?

It is a diagnostic method where the doctor may recommend additional diagnostic methods. This method uses blood testing to rule out any autoimmune condition. Another test performed is a nerve conduction study, where nerve testing is performed to see if the nerve supplying the muscles is healthy and works properly.

Only blood work and imaging cannot help to rule out certain muscle conditions such as fibromyalgia. In such conditions, the doctor will focus more on the symptoms experienced by the patient and diagnose by confirming the absence of other conditions.

Remedies

What Are the Home Remedies to Manage Myalgia?

  • Applying ice packs over the injured area can help to reduce pain and inflammation during the initial hours.

  • Massage and slow stretching exercises.

  • Regular physical activities like stretching, toning, etc.

  • Good sleep helps to reduce stress.

  • Practice regular yoga and meditation.

  • A warm bath with Epsom salts or a warm shower can help to relax the body.

What Are the Medical Treatments for Myalgia?

A medical consultation is necessary if one has chest pain, fever, loss of bladder control, muscle weakness, worsening pain, and numbness or tingling in limbs. Medications such as Aspirin, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen can help in temporary pain relief. Other medications like corticosteroids can be used to reduce the inflammation.

How to Get Rid of Body Aches Caused by Myalgia?

Two types of myalgia need different methods of treatment.

  • Acute Myalgia: This condition usually responds to home remedies. Some other methods which can help to relieve body aches are:

    • Resting.

    • Intake of over-the-counter pain medications.

    • Using ice and heat packs to manage swelling and pain.

    • Stretching muscles.

    • The person should not do high-impact physical activity unless the pain is relieved.

    • The practice of yoga and meditation helps to relieve stress.

  • Chronic Myalgia: Physical therapy is one main method of treatment to relieve the body aches caused by chronic myalgia. It helps to relieve the soreness of the muscle and helps to strengthen the tissues. The therapist can also help the person manage stress and also prescribe medication that helps to relieve pain.

When Should One Consult a Physician?

  • Musculoskeletal pain for more than three days.

  • Severe pain and when the cause is unknown.

  • Symptoms for poor circulation.

  • Rashes or insect bite.

  • Pain after changing medication.

Myalgia can also be an indication of a medical emergency if the person has the following signs and symptoms, along with muscle aches. In these situations, the person should seek immediate medical care.

  • Retention of water or reduced urine output.

  • Difficulty swallowing.

  • Problem breathing.

  • Stiffness of the neck.

  • Weak muscles.

  • Paralysis.

Conclusion:

Musculoskeletal pain is very common, and almost everyone suffers from this nowadays. Though it seems to be normal, when left untreated, it can affect even our daily routine. This can lead to a very big discomfort and prevents us from being normal. Hence, some lifestyle changes can help prevent myalgia and help one be normal.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

What Is the Most Effective Treatment for Myalgia?

Taking a treatment early, that is, within 24 hours after the injury or the onset of pain, is the key to fast relief of myalgia. Taking painkillers and use of cold packs can help to ease the pain. Giving proper rest to the affected part can also help to speed up the recovery.

2.

How Does the Pain From Myalgia Feel?

Myalgia or muscle pain can be due to a muscle injury, infection, disease, or other related health problems. It can be a random sharp pain or a steady ache that is deep. It can begin suddenly or shortly after the muscle is exerted. There can be pain or discomfort in the joints in the hands and legs. Muscle pain, stiffness of the muscle, and involuntary muscle spasms can be present.

3.

What Blood Test Can Diagnose Myalgia?

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein are the blood tests available to check inflammation in the body. If the pain is due to some other health conditions, other specific tests might have to be done. For example, specific blood tests are to be done to detect autoimmune conditions, which includes testing for some antibodies and genes.

4.

What Is the Duration of Pain Due to Myalgia?

Myalgia can usually take two to four weeks to disappear after taking treatments. They are usually treated with rest and painkillers. Ice packs can also be used to relieve the pain. If there are some other underlying health conditions, they should be diagnosed and treated accordingly.

5.

Is Myalgia a Result of Stress?

Yes, stress can be a reason that can gradually cause myalgia. When under stress, the muscle gets tensed and gets stiff. This gradually can lead to myalgia and muscle stiffness.

6.

What Are the Varieties of Myalgia?

Myalgia can be of different types: polymyalgia, epidemic myalgia, and fibromyalgia. Polymyalgia is an inflammatory condition that causes pain and stiffness, mainly in the shoulders and the hips. Epidemic myalgia is an infectious condition causing fever and muscle pain. Fibromyalgia is a condition where there is overall tiredness and tenderness of the muscles. Sleep can be affected, moods can be disturbed, and memory disturbances can be seen in people with fibromyalgia.

7.

What Kinds of Infections Result in Myalgia?

Myalgia is common in viral infections. The most common viral causes of myalgia include the influenza virus and enterovirus. The virus has been reported to have associations with myalgia. Bacterial infections that can cause muscle pains are rare. Polymyositis is a bacterial infection where muscle soreness is seen. It usually results in abscesses in the muscles.

8.

Is Walking Beneficial for Myalgia?

Recent studies show that exercises like walking, swimming, cycling, etc., can help to improve myalgia. Low-impact aerobic exercises are recommended. It brings back tiredness and helps to increase the energy level.

9.

How Is Myalgia Prevented?

Myalgia can occur due to various reasons. Preventing the causative factors can help to prevent myalgia to an extent. Taking proper rest and medications can help to ease the condition.

10.

What Medications Produce Myalgia?

Corticosteroids and cholesterol-lowering drugs are the most common drugs that can cause myalgia. Other drugs that can cause the condition include D-penicillamine, Valproic acid, Zidovudine, Cyclosporin, etc. Recreational drugs like cocaine and alcohol can also cause myalgia.

11.

Can Myalgia Harm the Heart?

Myalgia is not seen to have any effect on the heart, though chest pain can be seen in some cases of fibromyalgia. This can cause respiratory symptoms like difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.

12.

What Vitamins Aid Myalgia?

Vitamin D has strong associations with myalgia. Low levels of vitamin D can cause muscle soreness and stiffness. Other vitamins that are related to myalgia can include vitamins A, D, E, B, omega-3 fatty acids, and niacin. Calcium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc are found to ease symptoms of myalgia.
Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar
Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)

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