Muscle Pain – Causes

Causes of muscle pain

Muscle Stiffness
Stiffness in the muscles usually comes on after an increase in physical activity as the fibres that make up the muscles have been stretched beyond their typical limit. Once over-stretched, movement in the muscle is restricted.

Muscle stiffness can also develop due to viral infections such as flu or if there’s a problem with the immune system. The elderly are particularly vulnerable due to lack of physical activity at which point acute or chronic muscle stiffness develops.

Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps are synonymous in sports men and women and are felt as spasms in the muscle. This forceful and involuntary action is due to the muscle contracting and can develop after overexerting the muscle group. Cold muscles are prone to muscle cramps and the symptoms are caused by a lack of oxygen reaching the muscle at which point lactic acid builds up in the tissue leading to cramps.

Other causes of muscles cramps include:

1. Psychological stress – Mental stress and strain is a well-known cause of muscle pain. Prolonged periods of anger, anxiety, depression or melancholy typically cause tension in the muscles around the neck and shoulders.

2. RSI (repetitive strain injury) – RSI accounts for nearly 3 million sick days in the UK every year and is a cumulative injury caused by repeated movements in specific muscles (typically in the upper limbs). As these muscles become overused and go beyond their usual capacity, pain and restricted movement develops and can be debilitating. Common RSIs include carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and trigger finger.

3. Injury or trauma – Sporting injuries account for many muscle pain problems but any activity that can potentially overstretch a muscle can lead to a muscle sprain. Trauma from an accident such as whiplash is another common cause of muscle pain.

4. Disease, Disorder and Infection – Infections from a virus, fungus or bacteria will often have symptoms of muscle pain. Autoimmune diseases where by the immune system attacks the body’s cells will cause muscle pain. A defect in the metabolism can cause muscle pain as the body fails to effectively convert food into energy.

5. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) – CFS typically occurs after a bout of flu, bronchitis, severe stress or an intestinal infection. The symptoms of CFS can last many months, coming and going over that period and including headaches and muscle pain.

6. Pharmaceutical & Recreational Drugs – There are many side-effects to drugs whether they’re prescribed or not and muscle pain is one of the symptoms people suffer with when taking certain medications (particularly drugs that are prescribed for lowering cholesterol).

7. Drug withdrawal – Withdrawal from any type of drug whether it be alcohol, nicotine, narcotics, barbiturates or sleeping pills can include muscle pain as a symptom.

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