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Muscle Aching: Causes, Symptoms, and When to See the Doctor

Minor muscle aches are normal and commonly occur. The more active you are, the more likely you are to experience muscle pains. Sometimes, an underlying condition might be the cause. Here’s your guide to muscle aches.

9 minute read

Last Updated July 14, 2020

Muscle Aching: Causes, Symptoms, and When to See the Doctor

Muscle aches, also known as myalgia, are very common and can easily occur when muscles are overused, stressed, or strained. At some point in your life, you have likely experienced sore and aching muscles, but for the most part, they are temporary. 

Your body has muscle tissue all over, so these aches can be felt in almost every part of the body. There is no one single cause for muscle pain, which means it is important to know the cause, in the event a serious underlying condition needs to be addressed.

What Causes Muscle Aching

There are a number of factors that can cause or contribute to muscle aching. In most cases, stress, tension, or physical activity is the cause. Overusing a muscle during activity, underusing muscles, missing warmups and cooldowns with exercise, and injury can all cause temporary muscle aches

There are also several health conditions that can cause muscle aching on a more chronic basis.

Fibromyalgia: widespread and chronic pain affecting bones and muscle tissues
Chronic fatigue syndrome: a condition marked by extreme fatigue that includes symptoms of muscle ache

Bone infections: When bacterial or viral infections develop in the bone, the surrounding muscles will experience pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis: The chronic inflammation of joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis also causes soreness to the surrounding muscles.

Illness: Viral infections such as the flu cause widespread fatigue and muscle aches as well as joint and bone pain.

Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid reduces hormones available that your muscles and joints need, so muscle aches and stiffness are common symptoms of this condition.

Polymyositis: This is an inflammatory muscle condition that causes damage to the muscles or the blood vessels that supply the muscles, resulting in aches and stiffness.

Autoimmune conditions: The chronic inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases causes muscle aches.

Lyme disease: Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain. If you have been bitten by a tick or reside in areas where they thrive, it is important to see your doctor right away.

Muscle aches can also result from the following:

Nutritional deficits: Deficiency in vitamin D is known to cause muscle aches and pains, as this vitamin is essential for muscle function. Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium, and without calcium, a condition known as hypocalcemia develops, which weakens bones and muscles. 

♦ Dehydration:  Without adequate water in your body, your cells, tissues, and organs start to shut down. Essential bodily functions become difficult when you are dehydrated, and muscle aches are one of the first signs of dehydration. 

Sleep deficiency: Sleep allows your body to rest and recover, and between 7 and 9 hours is recommended for adults each night. Without sleep, your muscles can become sluggish as they have not fully recovered from the previous day, causing aches each time you move. 

Symptoms of Muscle Aching

Muscle aches can be localized or widespread, depending on the muscles affected. Aching muscles can feel differently depending on the damage done to the muscles. 

You can experience dull aches or sharp, shooting pains each time the affected muscles are moved. Muscle aches are usually a symptom of an underlying condition or injury rather than a condition on their own. 

In addition to sore muscles, you may also feel a combination of the following symptoms:

♦ Headaches
♦ Shaking
♦ Increased heart rate
♦ Chest pains
♦ High blood pressure 
♦ Diagnosis of Muscle Aching

Muscle aches caused by injury can be identified by inspecting the affected area, and your doctor can do this with a physical examination. It is important to discuss when the injury happened and where exactly it hurts.

When there is no apparent cause for your muscle aches, additional testing will be required to identify the cause. Blood tests, to identify infections and nutritional deficiencies can be done as well as x-rays and imaging scans to look for internal injuries or abnormal structures.

Treatment for Muscle Aching

If there is an underlying condition contributing to muscle aches, it must first be treated before your muscles will start feeling better. Doctors will most often prescribe pain medications and muscle relaxers to help with seriously injured muscles. 

In most cases, you can efficiently treat your aching muscles at home and find relief from any of the following:

♦ Over-the-counter pain medications
♦ Careful stretching of the affected muscles
♦ Resting the affected muscles
♦ Applying ice or cold compress to the area for between 25 and 20 minutes at a time, 3 times a day
♦ Application of heat can help relax tense or strained muscles and is best when alternated with ice or cold therapy.
♦ Applying a compression bandage to reduce swelling and aide movement
♦ Elevating the leg as much as possible to reduce inflammation and swelling

Natural Treatment for Muscle Aching

Muscle aching can be associated with mineral deficiency. Because your muscles and bones work together, they are often affected by the same deficiencies. Bone conditions like osteoporosis impact your muscles, causing pain. 

By maintaining healthy vitamin and mineral levels, you can prevent bone loss, bone disease, and any associated muscle aches.  

Some of the most important natural ingredients to support bone and muscle health include:

Calcium hydroxyapatite: Calcium hydroxyapatite is a highly absorbable form of calcium. It closely resembles the structure of bone minerals, so it is one of the best for correcting deficiencies. Calcium deficiency commonly causes muscle aches, but regularly consuming this ingredient keeps bones strong, reduces the risk of bone diseases, and can naturally treat muscle aches.

CalZbone: You get the benefits of plant-based compounds with CalZbone. The extract of the Cissus quadrangularis plant boosts bone growth while inhibiting bone breakdown. This cycle slows with age, which increases the risk of brittle bone and fracture. Weaker bones can cause pain to radiate nearby muscles. CalZbone prevents bone loss and can naturally prevent associated muscle pain.

MenaQ7: As an optimized form of vitamin K2, MenaQ7 can treat muscle aches. Vitamin K2 is important for bone and muscle health. A deficiency of this vitamin causes muscle pain and shorter recovery times from injury. To maintain muscle strength and bone health, MenaQ7 can be taken daily. 

When to See a Doctor

Muscle aches can be a symptom of a serious health condition and a sign that something is wrong with your body. You should see your doctor right away if:

♦ The aches do not go away after a few days of home treatment
♦ Severe muscle pain develops without an obvious cause
♦ Muscle aches appear with a rash
♦ Pain is accompanied by swelling and redness
♦ Pain occurs right after any medications are changed
♦ High fever develops

In some cases, muscle aching can be a medical emergency. It would be best to get to a hospital, should you notice any of the following symptoms:

♦ Difficulty swallowing
♦ Trouble catching your breath
♦ Stiffness in the neck
♦ Weakened muscles
♦ Vomiting
♦ Sudden onset of water retention
♦ Inability to move the affected area

Outlook for Muscle Aching

Temporary and minor muscle aches are normal and commonly occur. The more active you are, the more likely you are to experience muscle pains. 

If you experience muscle aches, it is important to rest and treat the aches before they get worse. If they continue, there may be an underlying condition that needs to be treated. The good news is that most muscle aches can be treated at home, and depending on how early more serious conditions are treated, the outlook is a positive one.

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