Muscle Pain

What is Muscle Pain

Muscle pain (myalgia) may be mild or severe. In most cases, the pain lasts only a short time and it goes away without treatment.

It is normal to feel some muscle pain after starting a workout program. Muscles that have not been used often will be sore at first.

Muscle pain may also be caused by many other things, including:

  • Overuse or muscle strain, especially if you are not in shape. This is the most common cause of muscle pain.
  • Injury.
  • Bruises.
  • Viruses, such as the flu.
  • Infectious diseases.
  • A chronic condition that causes muscle tenderness, fatigue, and headache (fibromyalgia).
  • A condition, such as lupus, in which the body’s disease-fighting system attacks other organs in the body (autoimmune or rheumatologic diseases).
  • Certain drugs, including ACE inhibitors and statins.

To diagnose the cause of your muscle pain, your health care provider will do a physical exam and ask questions about the pain and when it began. If you have not had muscle pain for very long, your health care provider may want to wait before doing much testing. If your muscle pain has lasted a long time, your health care provider may want to run tests right away. In some cases, this may include tests to rule out certain conditions or illnesses.

Treatment for muscle pain depends on the cause. Home care is often enough to relieve muscle pain. Your health care provider may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine.

Follow these instructions at home:


  • If overuse is causing your muscle pain:
    • Slow down your activities until the pain goes away.
    • Do regular, gentle exercises if you are not usually active.
    • Warm up before exercising. Stretch before and after exercising. This can help lower the risk of muscle pain.
  • Do not continue working out if the pain is very bad. Bad pain could mean that you have injured a muscle.

Managing pain and discomfort

  • If directed, apply ice to the sore muscle:
    • Put ice in a plastic bag.
    • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.
    • Leave the ice on for 20 minutes, 2–3 times a day.
  • You may also alternate between applying ice and applying heat as told by your health care provider. To apply heat, use the heat source that your health care provider recommends, such as a moist heat pack or a heating pad.
    • Place a towel between your skin and the heat source.
    • Leave the heat on for 20–30 minutes.
    • Remove the heat if your skin turns bright red. This is especially important if you are unable to feel pain, heat, or cold. You may have a greater risk of getting burned.


  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Do not drive or use heavy machinery while taking prescription pain medicine.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your muscle pain gets worse and medicines do not help.
  • You have muscle pain that lasts longer than 3 days.
  • You have a rash or fever along with muscle pain.
  • You have muscle pain after a tick bite.
  • You have muscle pain while working out, even though you are in good physical condition.
  • You have redness, soreness, or swelling along with muscle pain.
  • You have muscle pain after starting a new medicine or changing the dose of a medicine.

Get help right away if:

  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have trouble swallowing.
  • You have muscle pain along with a stiff neck, fever, and vomiting.
  • You have severe muscle weakness or cannot move part of your body.

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