Understanding Muscle Pain

Muscle aches and pains are very common, leaving you feeling miserable and sore. Aches and pains can be caused by a number of factors.

What are the symptoms of muscle pain?

  • Pain, tenderness or swelling
  • Stiffness or reduced movement of the injured area
  • Reduced strength of the injured area

What are the causes of muscle pain?

Muscle pain is often caused by one of the following:

  • Injury or trauma – this includes strains and bruising
  • Overuse – using our muscles too much, or too often
  • Tension or stress

When should I see my doctor?

Contact you doctor if you notice any one of the following:

  • You have severe pain or pain that is getting worse
  • Your pain is not improving after 3 days
  • Your pain is persisting
  • You have difficulty moving the affected area

Lifestyle tips for muscle pain

To minimise the effect of an injury, to help get you moving again sooner, follow RICE first aid as soon as possible:

  • Rest and avoid activities that cause you pain
  • Ice the injured area for 20 minutes every 2 hours
  • Compress the injured area with an elastic bandage
  • Elevate the injured area above the level of your heart while resting

In addition to using RICE first aid to treat your injury, to avoid making the inflammation worse, avoid HARM:

  • Heat
  • Alcohol
  • Re-injury
  • Massage

Once the swelling has reduced and the injury has started to heal, very gentle stretching will help keep the muscle or joint mobile. Anti-inflammatories or painkillers are helpful to relieve discomfort as your body heals.

When the injured area is completely healed, exercises to strengthen and promote flexibility in the area can be started.

Always consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen or routine.

If you find you often have muscle pain in your lower back or in your neck you may find information in the Back Pain and Neck Pain sections helpful.

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