Muscle Pain

Many things can cause muscle pain (myalgia), including injuries, infections and diseases. Muscle pain can be short-term or chronic. Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) occurs after exercise. You can take steps to prevent and manage muscle pain and the conditions that cause it.


What is muscle pain?

Muscle pain, or myalgia, is a sign of an injury, infection, disease or other health problem. You may feel a deep, steady ache or random sharp pains. Some people have muscle pain all over, while others have it in specific areas. Everyone experiences muscle pain differently.


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Who might get muscle pain?

People of all ages and genders can have sore muscles. When you try a new physical activity or switch up your exercise routine, you may experience delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Muscle aches may come on six to 12 hours after a workout and last up to 48 hours. You feel pain as the muscles heal and get stronger.

What other symptoms may occur with muscle pain?

In addition to muscle pain, you may also have:


Possible Causes

What causes muscle pain?

Many things can cause muscle pain, including:

  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Infections.
  • Injuries.
  • Medications.
  • Neuromuscular disorders.

What autoimmune diseases cause muscle pain?

Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks itself. A healthy immune system fights off germs and infections.

Autoimmune diseases that cause muscle pain include:


What types of infections cause muscle pain?

Bacterial and viral infections can make you feel achy all over. Depending on the cause, you may also have swollen lymph nodes, fever and nausea.

Types of infections that cause muscle aches include:

What types of injuries cause muscle pain?

When you repeatedly use the same muscles at work or during exercise, you may develop sore muscles from overuse.

Other types of injuries that cause sore muscles include:

What medications cause muscle pain?

Certain medications and therapies can cause temporary or chronic pain. Some medicines cause inflammation around muscle cells (myositis) or activate muscle pain receptors. These treatments include:

What neuromuscular disorders cause muscle pain?

Neuromuscular disorders affect muscles and the nerves that control them. They can cause muscle weakness and pain. These conditions include:

What other conditions cause muscle pain?

Other conditions that also cause muscle pain include:

Care and Treatment

How do healthcare providers diagnose muscle pain’s cause?

If you don’t know what’s causing muscle pain, or the pain is severe or chronic, your healthcare provider may order tests, such as:

  • Blood tests to check enzyme, hormone and electrolyte levels and test for infections.
  • MRI or CT scan to look for muscle injury or damage.
  • Electromyography to measure electrical activity in nerves and muscles.
  • Muscle biopsy to look for muscle tissue changes that may indicate neuromuscular diseases.

How is muscle pain managed or treated?

Depending on the cause, these steps may help you feel better:

  • Rest and elevate the painful area.
  • Alternate between ice packs to reduce inflammation and heat to improve blood flow.
  • Soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts or take a warm shower.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen).
  • Try complementary therapies, such as massage, meditation or acupuncture.

When To Call the Doctor

When should I call the doctor?

You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:

  • Chest pain.
  • Fever.
  • Loss of bladder control.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • New or worsening pain.
  • Numbness or tingling in limbs.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Almost everyone has muscle aches and pains now and then. For temporary muscle pain, rest, stretching and pain medicines can help. Chronic or severe muscle pain makes it difficult to do the things you love. If you have a condition that causes chronic muscle pain, talk to your healthcare provider about therapies that can help.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 02/11/2021.

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