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Deep Muscle Pain

Deep Muscle Pain

Deep muscle pain can be a symptom of several conditions, right from minor trauma or injury to diseases like fibromyalgia. Find out more about this condition, and its possible causes and treatment by going through this HealthHearty write-up.
Chandramita Bora
Though localized muscle pain is usually caused by an injury or overuse, generalized muscle pain or myalgia can be associated with conditions that can affect the whole body. In fact, deep muscle pain can be a symptom of some debilitating health conditions. It can be associated with infectious conditions like influenza, as well as some autoimmune conditions and disorders that affect the connective tissues.

Muscle pain usually resolves within a couple of weeks. But sometimes, it can linger for months, which can be a really annoying situation. Moreover, the pain can affect any part of the body, including the legs, arms, hips, and the back. To treat muscle pain or myalgia effectively, it is important to identify its underlying cause. Therefore, some common conditions that can produce deep muscle pain are explained below.

Conditions that Can Cause Deep Muscle Pain

Muscle Injury or Overuse
A muscle injury, or overuse of a group of muscles while exercising or performing any strenuous physical activity can cause myalgia. Such activities can cause sprains or strains, especially if you start an exercise regimen all of a sudden. Along with pain, one can experience swelling due to a muscle injury.

Electrolyte Imbalance

Muscle pain can also be caused by the deficiency of a crucial mineral or electrolyte like calcium, magnesium, or potassium. Electrolyte imbalances can cause muscle spasms and cramps, along with pain.

Dehydration is an important cause of electrolyte imbalances. So, conditions that can cause dehydration, such as excessive sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea can put an individual at an increased risk of developing an electrolyte imbalance, if the lost fluid and minerals are not replenished.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread muscle and skeletal pain, and unusual fatigue. This condition is more prevalent in women, as compared to men. Apart from deep muscle pain, the affected individual can have painful tender points, or areas of tenderness around the muscles and joints. Such painful points are termed as fibromyalgia tender points, which hurt when pressed with a finger.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is not a single condition, but a group of conditions characterized by chronic or persistent fatigue and myalgia. The kind of fatigue experienced is not relieved by rest or sleep. The exact causes of CFS are not known, but it is believed to be caused by the interplay of several factors, rather than a single factor or condition. Like fibromyalgia, CFS can also cause deep muscle pain, and it is more common in women than men.

Piriformis Syndrome
If you frequently experience deep muscle pain in the buttock, then it can be caused by a condition known as 'piriformis syndrome'. This condition is characterized by the irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve by the 'piriformis' muscle, which in turn causes pain deep in the buttock. The pain can worsen with activities like sitting or climbing stairs, and it can radiate down the back of the leg.

Deep muscle pain or myalgia accompanied by stiffness, tenderness, and general weakness can be caused by 'rhabdomyolysis'. 'Rhabdomyolysis' refers to the breakdown of muscle fibers. The contents of broken muscle fibers are released into the bloodstream, and then excreted through the urine, which gives the urine a dark color. Some of the breakdown products such as the protein myoglobin are harmful to the kidneys, and may lead to kidney failure at times.

Polymyalgia Rheumatica
Severe muscle pain can also be associated with 'polymyalgia rheumatica', an inflammatory disorder that causes severe pain in the hips, neck, and the shoulder area. One can also experience muscle pain in the arm, especially on the upper part of the arm, along with muscle stiffness. Polymyalgia rheumatica is quite rare in people younger than 50 years. What causes this inflammatory disorder is not known, but both genetics and environmental factors like exposure to viruses, are believed to play an important role in its development.

Polymyositis is an inflammatory disease characterized by the progressive weakness of skeletal muscles. Muscle pain and tenderness are usually experienced in the hips, thighs, arms, and the neck. Though the exact cause of polymyositis is not known, it is considered as an autoimmune condition, which means that the muscle tissues are attacked by the body's own immune system. But what exactly triggers such an autoimmune reaction is not known.

Other Possible Causes
The autoimmune condition lupus can also affect connective tissues of the body, and cause muscle pain. In addition to these, muscle pain can be a sign of generalized infections like malaria, influenza, measles, and rheumatic fever.


Identification of the underlying cause is the prerequisite for the proper treatment of this condition. In general, muscle pain caused by an injury or overuse improves with rest. Some home remedies like the application of an ice pack and warm compress can also provide significant relief.

Massage therapy and gentle exercises can help reduce and prevent muscle pain caused by overuse and repetitive injuries. Physical activity can help strengthen the muscles and improve muscle tone. Cycling, walking, and swimming are some good muscle strengthening exercises.

Muscle pain and cramps caused by an electrolyte imbalance can be alleviated by restoring the level of that electrolyte. But if it is caused by a condition like fibromyalgia, then treatment can include both medications and lifestyle changes. In general, pain medications and antidepressants are recommended for the treatment and management of fibromyalgia, along with regular physical activity, a balanced diet, and stress relief techniques like yoga and tai chi.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is usually treated with antidepressants, physical therapy, and psychological counseling. Acupuncture, yoga, and tai chi are some alternative treatment options for CFS.

If piriformis syndrome is responsible for causing intense pain in the buttock, it can be alleviated with rest and the application of ice and heat. If the pain is quite severe, physicians can recommend anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, and corticosteroid or anesthetic injections. In the future, the condition can be managed or prevented with appropriate exercises.

Rhabdomyolysis is usually treated with intravenous fluid and dialysis. Polymyalgia rheumatica on the other hand, is treated with an oral corticosteroid like prednisone. Prednisone is also used for treating polymyositis. Malaria on the other hand, is treated with antimalarial drugs like chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, and quinine sulfate.

If lupus disease is associated with persistent muscle pain, its treatment would require the administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antimalarial drugs, corticosteroids, or immune suppressants, along with a few lifestyle modifications.

So, the treatment of deep muscle pain can vary to a great extent depending on the underlying cause. If you frequently suffer from unexplained muscle pain that is not related to any kind of injury or overuse, then it is better to talk to your physician. Your physician can properly evaluate the condition and detect the root cause, which in turn, would ensure its prompt and effective treatment.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.