What is Muscle Pain?
Muscle aches and pain are a common everyday occurrence. At one time or another we have all experienced painful muscles from sitting in front of the computer, driving long distances or overexerting our bodies from strenuous exercise. Athletes often also find themselves by hampered with sports injuries such as ankle sprains which cause severe muscle pain.
For some, however, muscle pain can be a result of a condition that affects connective tissues throughout the body or infections such as the flu. Broader conditions such as arthritis may also cause muscle pain. Muscle pain ranges in intensity from dull aches to chronic, debilitating pain. Depending on the cause of pain, duration and its severity, there are various treatment options to provide muscle pain suited for the individual.
What Causes Muscle Pain?
The most causes of muscle pain include:
- Overuse of the muscle as a result of excessive exercise or physically demanding work – using a muscle too much or too soon
- Injury or trauma due to sprains and strains
- Tension or stress of the muscle
Muscle pain may also be a result of certain conditions such as:
- Polymyalgia hepatica
- Lyme disease
- Influenza (the flu)
- Muscle abscess
Certain drugs may also contribute to muscle pain including:
- Statins for lowering cholesterol
- ACE inhibitors for lowering blood pressure
Help for Muscle Pain
For the treatment of muscle pain associated with overuse and injury, apply ice during the first 24-72 hours to reduce the pain and inflammation. Thereafter, heat may be applied and medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be taken. Other treatment options such as massage therapy, acupuncture or physical therapy can also reduce tension and stiffness. Physical aides such as ankle braces, wrist wraps or back braces helps to hold joints and bones in place.
If you experience severe, unexplained pain, have symptoms of fever, vomiting, sudden weight gain, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness or cannot move any part of your body, consult a doctor immediately. After a thorough physical examination and medical history is taken, additional tests such as a complete blood count and specific blood tests will be ordered to check for Lyme disease, connective tissue disorder and to look at muscle enzymes.
More Information on Muscle Pain
Natural and holistic treatments are also excellent alternative treatments known to relieve muscle pain and inflammation associated with conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism and sports injuries. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries to promote healing after injury, and is safe and gentle enough for the body’s system. Massage together with the therapeutic aromas of aromatherapy oils facilitates the healing process by soothing the affected area and encouraging relaxation.
Two well known essential oils such as Peppermint and Ginger essential oils have several therapeutic uses and are highly effective for musculo-skeletal conditions. Pine essential oil is also beneficial in the treatment of post surgery, relieves nervous fatigue and promotes circulation. In addition, carrier oils such as arachis, wheatgerm, almond and grapeseed oil have nourishing and healing properties.
Tips to relieve muscle pain
- If you experience muscle pain or cramps, stop exercising immediately
- When exercising for the first time, start off slowly at a low intensity for a short period and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your work-out
- Warm up properly before your work-out and cool down afterwards to reduce the temperature of your muscles
- Take a cold shower or bath to relieve overworked muscles
- Eat foods rich in potassium, magnesium or calcium to prevent muscle cramps and pain
- Drink lots of fluid before, during and after exercise
- Stretch before and after exercising
- Swimming in cold water also helps to reduce inflammation and soreness
- Do not overdo your exercising, stop when your body tells you to
- Massage sore, tired muscles to increase blood flow and reduce soreness