Muscles Won’t Stop Aching?


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From intense exercise to medical conditions, there are all kinds of things that can cause us to develop achy muscles. This post delves into a few causes of achy muscles, as well as various ways to treat them. 

This is a collaborative post

What causes muscle aches?

Our muscles can start hurting for all kinds of reasons. A few of the most common causes are detailed below:

  • DOMS: The most likely cause is delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This is caused by strenuous exercise and can last as long as 5 days after an intense workout. Contrary to the ‘no pain, no gain’ mantra, DOMS is not essential for muscle growth. In fact, if you regularly get DOMS, it could be a sign that you’re not exercising correctly - failing to warm up, not cooling down and not staying hydrated during exercise are all big causes.

  • A muscle injury: If your muscles continue to ache after 5 days of exercise, and it’s more of a sharp pain than a dull ache, it could be a muscle injury. This is also caused by overexertion and is a bit more serious than DOMS, but can still usually be treated at home. Unlike DOMS, a muscle injury may hurt directly after exercise, or you may even feel the injury as it happens. 

  • Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes muscle soreness and pain all around the body. It is typically not related to exercise and is often triggered by a stressful event. You’re more likely to develop fibromyalgia if a family member already has it. 

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome: Getting enough sleep, but still feel extremely tired? You may be suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. This syndrome causes muscle aches and exhaustion. The root cause is unknown - like fibromyalgia, it may be caused by stress.

  • Other causes: Many viral and bacterial infections can cause achy muscles including the flu, although these are typically accompanied by other symptoms like a temperature and headache. An autoimmune disease could also be responsible. It is best to go to a doctor if you have been experiencing unexplained muscle soreness for a while.

How to treat achy muscles?

Many people treat achy muscles with painkillers, however this is not always effective. Acetaminophen is likely to do nothing against DOMS although may help with other muscular pains. Ibuprofen is typically better suited due to its anti-inflammatory properties. 

If you’ve developed a muscle injury, the RICE method may be your best form of recovery - this involves resting the muscle, putting ice on the injury, compressing and elevating. It is best to avoid exercising the affected part of your body until it has healed.

A hot bath can help to relieve muscle pain for many people. The hot water loosens up the muscles, freeing trapped nerves and reducing inflammation.

You can also look into physiotherapy. There are many professional treatments such as a sport massage that can help with injuries. There are also more alternative treatments like dry needling (click here to learn more about dry needling). 

Seeing a doctor is recommended if pain persists or if you’re unsure of the cause. An infection may require antibiotics, whereas other conditions may require prescription painkillers. Tests should be able to determine the cause of the pain so that you can get the right treatment.


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