Muscle aches and pains are known as myalgia, which can be characterized by many different disorders. Considering muscle pain may occur practically anywhere in the body, it may disrupt daily activities and can be difficult to treat. Treatment plans range from over-the-counter medications to physical therapy. Yoga and Pilates exercises can also be done to strengthen muscles to reduce the severity of aches and pains.
Here are some common causes of aches and pains to look out for.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is an extensive disorder causing extreme fatigue that may worsen with physical or mental activity but does not improve with rest. There is no apparent underlying medical cause or condition; however, some theories do include infections or chronic stress as potential triggers. It may be accompanied by unexplained aches and pains, changes in mood, problems concentrating, and a lack of interest in activities. Although no tests are used to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome, medical examinations may be done to rule out other potential problems.
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Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that occurs when theaffected individual's body continually sends pain signals to the brain. It is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, which may also be accompanied by memory loss, mood changes, sleep disturbances and fatigue. Women are generally more likely than men to develop fibromyalgia. The condition usually begins after surgery, physical trauma, infection, or even severe psychological stress, though some cases develop for no apparent reason. Individuals affected by fibromyalgia also frequently experience headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and depression.
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The flu is a very common condition and is often associated with general aches and pains around the body, often called malaise. It occurs when a viral infection attacks an individual's upper respiratory system, causing symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Because it is a viral infection, many cases of the flu cannot be resolved by antibiotics and will need to resolve themselves. Over-the-counter medications are available to reduce the symptoms of vomiting, gastrointestinal discomfort, headaches, runny nose, and muscle aches. Staying hydrated is an important part of recovery as well.
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Lupus is an autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation of the skin, joints, blood cells, kidneys, brain, heart, and lungs. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and cells in the body because it thinks they are foreign invaders. Lupus can cause painful inflammation in just about any organ in the body. It is most recognizable to doctors and their patients by the iconic butterfly-shaped rash that develops along the bridge of the affected individual's nose and cheeks. Medications to treat lupus effectively include immunosuppressants and steroids.
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Hypothyroidism, which is when an affected individual has an underactive thyroid, is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. This may result in unexplained weight gain, fatigue, general aches and pains in and around the body, heart disease, and infertility. Weight gain and muscle or joint aches and pains are usually the first indications an individual has an issue with their thyroid, especially if no lifestyle changes have recently occurred. Medications are available to treat hypothyroidism; however, many individuals can improve their condition through diet and exercise interventions.
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Lyme disease is a bacterial infection contracted through ticks. It is caused by four main species of bacteria including Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia afzelii, Borrelia mayonii, and Borrelia garinii. The two strains known to cause Lyme disease in the United States are Borrelia burgdorferi and Borrelia mayonii, which are commonly found in deer ticks (which is why tick and bug spray are crucial in wooded areas). Characteristics of the infection include flu-like symptoms, muscle aches and weakness, and joint and limb pain, along with a bulls-eye pattern rash.
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Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder caused by chronic inflammation of the joints, skin, eyes, lungs, blood vessels, and heart of affected individuals. It is quite the painful disease that affects the lining of the joints, causing them to swell. Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis in their hands often experience joints that swell up to twice their normal size, which can result in bone deformity and joint deformity, along with stiffness and movement difficulties. Although the pain could begin anywhere in the body, it is most common in the hands.
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Statin drugs are prescription medications typically used to lower an individual's cholesterol levels, which can cause serious issues if they are high for extended periods. Unfortunately, one of the side effects linked to certain statin medications is muscle aches and pain. The pain and aches these medications cause is usually minor although consistent, and includes soreness and stiffness of muscles, joints, and ligaments. If the aches and pains become a problem, individuals should talk to a doctor about other options that may be available to control their cholesterol such as diet and exercise.
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Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a condition characterized by a bacterial infection caused by a tick. Early signs of this infection include severe headaches, high fever, and general aches and pain throughout the body. Additionally, a rash may appear on the affected individual's ankles and wrists, which may also be quite painful to deal with. If not treated right away, the infection from Rocky Mountain spotted fever may spread to internal organs such as the kidney and heart where it can cause severe damage. The disease, thankfully, responds fairly well to antibiotics.
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Myofascial Pain Syndrome
Although nearly everyone experiences aches and pains at some point in their life, myofascial pain syndrome is characterized by chronic pain and pressure in the joints, muscles, and trigger points throughout the body. The pain linked to this irritating condition usually occurs when a muscle is overutilized or has been contracted many times, such as in repetitive motions like repeated exercise routines or physical labor jobs. It may even be caused by stress-related tension. Treatment for myofascial pain syndrome includes physical therapy and trigger point injections.
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Sprains Or Strains
Sprains or strains are some of the most common reasons for aches in the body. Both strains and sprains are conditions that occur when the soft tissues of the body become damaged. These tissues include muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Most of these injuries aren't serious and will heal on their own, though more serious sprains may require medical help. A doctor can stabilize the injury and may order tests to make sure there aren't any broken or fractured bones. Sprains occur when a ligament becomes twisted, overly stretched, or torn. Ligaments are tissue bands connecting the bones, and they tend to be found around the joints. Strains, on the other hand, occur when a muscle or tendon becomes twisted, torn, or overstretched. Tendons connect muscle fibers to the bones. Sprains often occur around the knees, thumbs, ankles, and wrists. Strains often occur in the back, feet, and knees.
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It sometimes surprises individuals that dehydration can cause pains in the body. Dehydration occurs when you haven't had enough to drink. Most are familiar with feelings of a dry mouth, dry throat, increased thirst, or feelings of overheating when dehydrated. But unexplained pains in the body can also be caused by this condition. Muscle cramps can also occur due to heat exhaustion, which stems from an inability to cool down properly, and is caused by a lack of hydration. Muscle cramps may come on when an individual is exercising too vigorously without enough water, especially if they exercise in hot weather. Dehydration is also prone to causing headaches. These may be mild, but they can also develop into migraines. If someone finds their head is hurting for seemingly no reason, they should try drinking some water to see if that alleviates the pain.
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Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain, though different types of arthritis can cause different types of pain. There are actually more than one hundred kinds of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases. One-fourth of arthritis patients say it leads to severe pain, while over one-third say the condition affects their functioning at work or in leisure activities. Osteoarthritis occurs when the joint's protective cartilage breaks down, leading to pain when joints move against each other. There isn't the necessary cushioning to keep the bones from grating. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the joints, leading to widespread pain throughout the body. This condition causes persistent inflammation that leads to permanent joint damage.
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Polymyalgia rheumatica is a leading cause of aches and pains for individuals over sixty-five years old. Though it usually sets in after this point, an individual's risk of developing the condition becomes higher once they reach fifty years old. It's rare for individuals under fifty years old to be affected. With this disorder, inflammation leads to muscle stiffness and pain. The pain is often concentrated in the shoulders. Symptoms tend to set in quickly, and many patients report more stiffness and pain when they wake up than when they go to bed. In addition to causing pain in the shoulders, polymyalgia rheumatica might also cause aching and pain in the thighs, hips, buttocks, upper arms, and neck. The affected areas may be stiff, with stiffness increasing after waking up or after periods of inactivity. The patient's range of motion may be limited, and some have stiffness and pain in their knees, elbows, or wrists.
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Dystonia is a type of movement disorder that affects around one percent of the population. Women have a higher risk of developing it than men. With this disorder, certain muscles undergo uncontrollable contractions, which lead to involuntary twisting of the affected body part, which leads to abnormal postures or repetitive movements. Some dystonia patients only have one affected muscle, while others have one or more muscle groups. It's possible for dystonia to affect the entire body, though this is rare. Dystonia is often a progressive condition that gets worse over time. It can cause aches and pains in the early stages. Common symptoms are involuntary neck pulling, foot cramps, dragging of the leg, uncontrolled blinking, or struggles with speech.