Muscle pain or myalgia is not a pathological condition in and of itself but rather a symptom of a tremendous numbers of disorders and diseases as well as of misuses of particular muscles. In that sense, muscles pain is similar to fever because it too is a mechanism that alerts or warns that there is something which is going on in the body that needs to be fixed or, stated more correctly, healed.
Causes of Muscle Pain
The causes of muscles pain are countless but the following are some of the most frequently occurring ones:
1/ Psychological stresses – Stress, depression, anxiety, fear, rage, anger and unhappiness can all lead to muscle spasms and pain, particularly around the neck and shoulder areas.
2/ Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) – A repetitive strain injury is also known as cumulative trauma disorder (CTD), occupational overuse syndrome, non-specific arm pain or work related upper limb disorder (WRULD). RSI occurs when a specific muscle or a group of muscles is overused, used too much, used too frequently, used too often and/or used above and beyond its capacity. Examples of RSI are: writer’s cramps, tennis elbow, Carpal tunnel syndrome and trigger finger.
3/ Injury – Injuries to the muscles are most often due to sprains occurring when muscles are stretched beyond their natural limits, and strains occur when overstretched muscles tear.
4/ Diseases and Disorders – Diseases and disorders whose symptoms often include muscle pain are categorized as infectious (viral, bacterial or fungal), autoimmune, metabolic defect and others.
5/ Infectious – All the disease which are caused and propagated by harmful foreign organisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungus are classed as infectious diseases. The flu (influenza) is a good example of an infectious disease which is known to cause muscle pain.
6/ Autoimmune – Autoimmune diseases are caused by
people’s overzealous immune systems attacking the cells of their own
bodies as if they were foreign. Polymyalgia rheumatic, for instance, is
an autoimmune disease which attacks the muscles and causes pain.
7/ Metabolic Defect – Metabolic defects are medical conditions involving the metabolism, which is the process by which bodies convert nutrients into energy. Metabolic defects tend to be hereditary or passed on through the generations.
8/ Others – There is an array of conditions which are not yet fully understood by modern medicine and the chronic fatigue syndrome is a good example.
9/ Drugs – All drugs (doctor prescribed, over-the-counter or recreational and illegal) produce side effects. Certain drugs have been known to include muscle pain as part of their side effects, and statins, the cholesterol-lowering medications, are part of such group of drugs.
10/ Withdrawals – Withdrawing from opioids, barbiturates, benzodiazepines or alcohol can include muscle pain as part of their overall symptoms of withdrawal.
Dealing with Muscle Pain
In order to deal with muscle pain effectively, one must consider its severity, its duration, whether there are other symptoms accompanying it and whether it subsides or gets more aggravated in response to certain activities such as resting or working. With the help of such information and some other clinical testing, a trained medical practitioner can get to the root of the problem and treat it accordingly with medications, with therapy or with good old fashioned helpful advice.
Alternative Medicine to Treat Muscle Pain
1/ Massage. Massaging and manipulating painful muscles and their connective tissues increases the circulation of blood into the affected area to deliver more oxygen and nutrients while removing toxins to expedite the healing process.
2/ Reflexology and Acupuncture. Applying pressure and stimulus to specific pressure points which correlate to the painful muscles encourages the body to heal itself.
3/ Biofeedback. Biofeedback is a technique by which patients are trained to control their painful muscles by flexing and relaxing them, thus speed up the process of recovery.
4/ Compresses. Applying compresses which alternate between hot and cold is an effective therapy for muscle pain. The heat relaxes tense muscles, the cold numbs pain while reducing inflammation and swelling and the two (hot and cold) increase blood circulation to the affected muscles.
5/ Chiropractic Medicine and Physical Therapy. Chiropractic medicine focuses on the skeletal system (the spine) while the physical therapy focuses on movements of joints and muscles. Together they help the body heal the natural way.
6/ Supplemental Minerals. Certain muscle pain has been known to ease with the intake of supplemental minerals such as calcium and magnesium.