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Myalgia: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, First Aid, and Prevention

Almost every individual might have experienced muscle pain or discomfort during some point of his or her lifetime. Myalgia is a medical term used to describe muscle pain and discomfort. It is a common symptom of an injury or a wide range of muscle disorders. Muscle pain can limit the ability to perform everyday activities, such as lifting things and climbing stairs.

MyalgiaWhat is Myalgia?

Myalgia, or muscle ache, is the most common symptom of many underlying diseases. A muscle ache can be a deep, dull or sharp pain, which can occur due to infections, inflammatory conditions, and use of certain medications. The pain may be confined to a specific part of the body or the entire body.

Most often, myalgias are accompanied by joint pain, which can result in fatigue. Myalgia or muscular pain can go away in a short time or can persist for months. It can develop in any part of the body, such as the neck, hands, back, and even legs. A muscle ache that occurs throughout the body may indicate an infection or an underlying disease.

What are the Causes of Myalgia?

In most instances, muscle aches result from tension, overexertion, or physical activity. The common causes of muscle pain include:

  • Stress: Extreme stress makes it difficult for the body to fight against inflammation or infection, thereby resulting in muscle pain. Stress can cause symptoms, such as headaches, heart palpitations, chest pain, and high blood pressure. Also, chronic stress makes the muscles remain in a constant state of tension, thereby causing muscular pain.
  • Dehydration: Water plays a key role in carrying out essential bodily functions. Lack of sufficient amount of water makes it harder to carry out functions, such as breathing and digestion. A dehydrated person would experience myalgia or muscle aches.
  • Excessive physical activity: Doing strenuous physical exercises can result in stiff and sore muscles. A person who fails to do proper warm-ups or stretching before working out is more susceptible to muscle aches.
  • Medical conditions: Some of the medical problems, such as infections, hereditary conditions, and certain diseases can cause muscle aches. The common conditions that result in myalgias include:
    • Lupus
    • Fibromyalgia
    • Arthritis
    • Anemia
    • Influenza
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Pneumonia
    • Chronic fatigue syndrome
    • Lyme disease
    • Mononucleosis
    • Dermatomyositis
  • Sleep disorders: Lack of proper rest to the body and insufficient sleep can make a person feel sluggish and dull. Sleep disorders can result in muscle aches, especially while carrying out everyday activities.
  • Injury: A sprain or strain resulting from an injury can cause significant muscle pain and discomfort. In addition, the affected area of the body becomes stiff, which may result in pulling of muscles or muscle soreness.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: Improper nutrition or diet may result in muscular aches and pain. Vitamin D plays a prominent role in ensuring proper muscular function. Moreover, vitamin D deficiency can lead to hypocalcemia (low blood calcium levels), which can affect the bones along with muscles.
  • Thyroid problems: An underlying thyroid disease (hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism) can cause muscle pain, discomfort, and weakness. People with thyroid problems experience muscular symptoms, such as cramps and stiffness.

Symptoms of Myalgia:

The most common symptoms associated with muscle aches and discomfort in the muscles, include:

  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Redness and swelling at the affected area
  • Pain or tenderness of the injured muscle
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Stiffness of joints in the affected area

Some of the serious symptoms, such as high fever, difficulty breathing, extreme strain or stress require immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis:

To diagnose myalgia, the doctor will review the symptoms along with present as well as the past medical history. Also, the doctor will check for the pain and tenderness at the affected part of the body. If the symptoms of myalgia remain for an extended period, the doctor recommends imaging procedures, such as an x-ray examination, computed tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

Treatment of Myalgia:

The treatment for myalgia aims to relieve the symptoms and reduce muscle aches. Depending on the underlying cause of myalgia, the doctor would recommend the following treatment options to relieve muscle pain:

Medical intervention:

  • Corticosteroids may help to reduce swelling or inflammation in the affected area.
  • Antibiotics are prescribed, if an underlying infection is the cause of muscle pain.
  • Medications, such as venlafaxine may help to decrease the depressive symptoms due to muscular pain.

Managing muscle pain:

  • Warm water baths help to relieve the over-all muscle pain.
  • Place a warm compress at the affected area to ease the discomfort of muscle pain.
  • Practice mild to moderate stretch and muscle strengthening exercises to relieve muscular pain.

The following are the safety measures until the muscle pain is completely reduced:

  • Do not indulge in high-impact activities that strain the muscle.
  • Ensure to take sufficient of rest.
  • Avoid lifting heavy weights until the muscle pain is completely relieved.

First Aid for Myalgi:

When a person experiences myalgia, the following first aid treatment helps to relieve aches that occur due to minor sports injuries, stress, or exercises. Most of the people opt for the R.I.C.E. method to treat the symptoms of myalgia:

  • Rest: Do not move the injured or affected area and stay away from the activity that resulted in an injury.
  • Ice: Place an ice pack or bag on the affected area, to relieve the pain. Additionally, it helps to reduce swelling at the injured or affected part of the body. Repeat this three times a day.
  • Compression: Make use of a compression bandage to reduce the swelling.
  • Elevation: Elevate the feet to some extent to reduce the inflammation in your legs or any part in your lower body.

Prevention of Myalgia:

The following are the measures that help to prevent myalgias or muscle pain:

  • Take periodic breaks when you are in the same position (like sitting or standing) for long durations.
  • Stretch properly before starting your regular workout.
  • Exercise regularly to promote optimal muscle tone.
  • Stay hydrated, especially while engaging in physical activities

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Muscle Pain (Myalgia). Breast cancer. https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/side_effects/muscle_pain. Accessed December 8, 2018.
2.
Muscle aches. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/muscle-aches. Accessed December 8, 2018.
3.
What is Myalgia? . Study.com. https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-myalgia-definition-symptoms-treatment.html. Accessed December 8, 2018.

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