Muscle pain can affect any of the muscles in the body. While there is a wide range of causes, some of the most common ones include:
- a sudden or awkward movement
- taking a hit (trauma)
- strenuous or different exercise
- medication (side effect)
- repetitive movements
- conditions such as fibromyalgia or a viral infection
Managing muscle pain often depends on its underlying cause. There are several treatment options available to relieve this type of pain:
- use of heat or cold therapy
- use of analgesics such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
- use of muscle relaxants
- use of topical analgesics
Unless otherwise specified by your healthcare professional, the use of cold therapy to reduce inflammation due to a muscle injury is helpful. Cold should be applied within the first 48 hours of an injury. Do not apply cold therapy directly to the skin as it can damage the skin. Afterwards, unless otherwise specified, heat may be applied to improve blood flow. A hot water bottle or a dry or moist electric heating pad can be used as a heat source.
A topical analgesic can be applied by massaging the area in question more or less frequently, depending on the product used. Because they do not all contain the same ingredients, the effectiveness and effect of these products vary. They can produce a heating or cooling sensation or no sensation at all. Some products are fragrance-free. Even though they are applied on the skin, topical analgesics can interact with medications that are taken orally.
Pharmacies offer a wide variety of over-the-counter oral analgesics. As for muscle relaxants, they all have a sedative effect (induce sleep) and can cause dry mouth. To choose the treatment that is best for you, speak to your pharmacist.
If you develop unexplained muscle pain that is persistent or severe, or widespread pain accompanied by fever, chills or fatigue, it is advised that you see a medical professional.