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Myalgia Treatment

Myalgia Treatment

The treatment of myalgia depends on the severity of the condition, as well as the underlying cause. This article discusses the treatment options available for myalgia, along with its causes.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Myalgia refers to muscle pain or muscle ache, which can be a symptom of several health conditions, right from the overuse of muscles or muscle injuries, to some underlying health problems. Almost everyone experience muscle aches now and then owing to physical trauma, muscle overuse, or viral infections like flu.
Mild muscle pain that subsides within a day or two is usually not related to any major health problem. But muscle pain or myalgia lingering for prolonged periods of time may be associated with metabolic myopathy and conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. The treatment or management of myalgia can differ depending on the underlying causes. But before discussing myalgia treatment or management, let's take a brief look at the factors or conditions that can cause muscle pain.
Causes of Myalgia
Muscle Overuse, Injuries, and Viral Infections
As mentioned already, a wide range of factors can cause myalgia. But more commonly, it is associated with the overuse of a muscle or a group of muscles, and injuries like sprains and strains. Other than traumatic injuries, viral infections like flu or influenza can cause muscle aches, which can be accompanied by a runny nose, fever, cough, and general malaise.
Electrolyte Imbalance
Muscle pain and cramps, especially nighttime muscle cramps in the legs, can be a sign of electrolyte imbalance (an imbalance of vital minerals). Minerals like calcium and potassium are essential for proper muscle functioning. The levels of these minerals can reduce in the body due to excessive sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Metabolic Disorders
Muscle weakness and a loss muscle tone can be caused by metabolic disorders like glycogen storage diseases. These are a group of inherited diseases that impair the conversion of glucose to glycogen, or the breakdown of glycogen to glucose. These diseases mostly affect the muscles and the liver, though they can affect other parts of the body, including the kidneys, heart, blood vessels, and the nervous system.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a group of medical conditions characterized by persistent and extreme fatigue that can affect the quality of life. The kind of fatigue experienced by the affected individual is not due to exertion, and is not relieved by rest. Apart from muscle pain, the affected individual can experience brain fog, impaired memory or concentration, joint pain, headaches, a sore throat, tender lymph nodes, mood swings, and irritation. What exactly causes chronic fatigue syndrome is not known, but this condition has been observed to be more prevalent in women in the age group of 40 to 50 years.
Fibromyalgia
Chronic muscle pain can also be associated with fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by myalgia, debilitating fatigue, sleep disturbances, numbness and tingling sensations, and joint stiffness. Though the exact causes of fibromyalgia are not known with certainty, this condition is suspected to be associated with hormonal disturbances, chemical imbalance, stress, trauma, and certain illnesses. This condition is also more prevalent in women.
Other Causes
Sometimes, myalgia can be a symptom of malaria, dermatomyositis, polymyositis, myositis, polymyalgia, lupus disease, trichinosis, muscle abscess, rhabdomyolysis, dengue fever, polio, and HIV/AIDS. Lyme disease caused by the bacteria of the genus Borrelia, and transmitted by the bites of infected ticks, can also produce flu-like symptoms, such as muscle pain or soreness, fever, malaise, and headaches in the early stage of the infection. Sometimes, muscle pain can be caused by alcohol withdrawal or withdrawal of drugs like opioids, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines as well.
How to Treat Myalgia
Myalgia can be treated effectively only after ascertaining the underlying cause. If it is caused by factors like overuse of muscles, or an injury or trauma, then application of hot and cold packs can provide significant relief. A warm bath is yet another simple and effective home remedy for muscle pain.
If the affected muscles are too painful to be relieved by these home remedies, then pain killers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen may be required. Muscle relaxants can also be used for treating this condition. If myalgia is associated with a bacterial disease like lyme disease, appropriate antibiotics will be required for its effective treatment.
Muscle pain can also be reduced by massaging the affected area with gentle strokes. Massage can help reduce muscle pain caused by fibromyalgia as well. Sometimes, cognitive behavioral therapy and other related psychological and behavioral therapies are also employed for the management of fibromyalgia. The commonly used medications for the treatment and management of fibromyalgia are, pregabalin, duloxetine, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and anti-seizure medications.
For treating chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive behavioral therapy, and exercise therapy can be employed, along with pain killers. Even antidepressants can be prescribed by your physician, if you have trouble getting enough sleep due to chronic fatigue syndrome.
Regular physical activity or exercise is another effective way to treat myalgia caused by physical inactivity and conditions like fibromyalgia. Proper stretching and aerobic exercises can help tone up and strengthen muscles, and prevent frequent muscle pain in the future. Exercise can also increase flexibility of the muscles to prevent frequent muscle sprains or strains. For the long-term management of chronic muscle pain, physical therapy may be required.

Accompanied Symptoms
Myalgia can affect muscles of the various parts of the body, and accordingly, its symptoms can vary to an extent. When it affects the muscles of the cervical region, it can cause headaches and heaviness of the head, along with muscle pain. Sometimes, it can also restrict the movement of the neck. Other symptoms that can accompany myalgia are, tingling and numbness of the affected muscle, tenderness, swelling, and redness.
Myalgia is usually not caused by any major health problem, especially if the pain resolves within a day or two. But if the pain persists for more than 3 days, and is quite severe and accompanied by some other symptoms like swelling, redness, stiff neck, shortness of breath, a high grade fever, and a skin rash, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.