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Learn about your muscle aches, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your muscle aches from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Muscle Aches Checker

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Your Muscle Aches May Also be Known as:
Aching body
Achy
Achyness
Body ache
Body aches
Body pain
Bodyache
Cramping
Cramps
Cramps all over

Muscle Aches Symptoms

Muscle aches, also called myalgia, is a general term for any type of body pain coming from your muscles – the ones you remember from high school biology class.

Sometimes it is a sore shoulder from too much tennis or a pain in your back after helping a friend move. Other times you just ache all over and your muscles seem sensitive, usually due to an illness or the flu.

Characteristics:

  • The aching may affect only an isolated muscle or muscles group.
  • Your lower back is a common area for muscle pain, though it can occur anywhere in your body.
  • The aching may be widespread throughout many muscles.
  • Your pain level can range from mild to excruciating.
  • The aching almost always worsens with movement.
  • You may have burning or twitching in the affected muscles.

Duration:

  • The pain may last for a a few days and then go away on its own.
  • The pain may become chronic and continue for weeks or months.

Who is most often affected by muscle aches?

  • Anyone doing repetitive physical work.
  • Anyone playing, or training for, a sport.
  • Anyone with a viral illness, such as the flu.
  • Anyone taking statin medication for treatment of high cholesterol.
  • People who do intense weight lifting and exercise.

Is it serious?

  • Muscle aches that are clearly the result of overexertion are rarely anything serious and usually better in a few days.
  • Severe and unrelentingly painful muscle aches, either in one spot or all over, can be serious and should be treated right away.
  • Muscle pain that is not provoked or part of a cold needs to be investigated right away as well.

Muscle Aches Causes Overview

Many conditions can have muscle aches as a symptom. The most common are those involving physical causes, especially from overuse; but diseases, medications, and even emotional stress can all have muscle aches and pain as a side effect.

Physical causes:

  • Weekend warriors
  • Overuse for a long period of time, such as from manual labor or sports.
  • Carrying a bag on the same arm or shoulder
  • Minor trauma such as a fall or car accident.
  • Major injuries, especially following bone fractures, dislocations, or crush injuries.
  • Rhabdomyolysis can occur with extreme physical exertion, such as running a marathon, and this can be very serious

Disease-related causes:

  • Viral illness.
  • Localized bacterial infection, from the swelling and invasion of pus that can affect the muscles around an infected wound.
  • Medication side effects, especially from statins used for high cholesterol.

Emotional causes:

  • Low-level tension due to ongoing stressful situations. Many people "carry" their stress in the neck, shoulders, or back, constantly tensing the muscles in these locations. Eventually, your muscles will begin to feel sore from the strain.

Top 9 Muscle Aches Causes

  1. 1.Common Cold

    The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.

    The common cold is treated symptomatically. Since this is a viral infection, antibiotics are not effective. You can safely treat the symptoms of this condition with over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants, antihistamines & cough medicines.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, sore throat, congestion
    Symptoms that never occur with common cold:
    being severely ill, severe muscle aches, rash, severe headache
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Acute Bacterial Sinusitis

    Acute bacterial sinusitis occurs when the sinuses become infected and, in turn, inflamed, which causes pain and other symptoms. The sinuses are air-filled cavities in the face that are generally clean and empty but when sick collect excess mucus and can become infected.

    You should visit a physician or urgent care facility in the next day or two. It’s likely your sinus infection is caused by a bacterial infection, which requires treatment with antibiotics. In the mean time, ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be taken to help with pain & fever.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, muscle aches, sore throat
    Symptoms that always occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute bacterial sinusitis:
    clear runny nose, being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Symptoms of Menopause

    Menopause is the point in life where your period stops. This happens when the ovaries stop making hormones that keep your cycle going.

    Diagnosis doesn't require a blood test and completed menopause is defined as not having a period for the last 12 months. Treatment of symptoms includes diet and exercise, hormonal and non-hormonal therapies, and OTC medications as symptoms occur.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, vaginal discharge, trouble sleeping, muscle aches, anxiety
    Symptoms that always occur with symptoms of menopause:
    hidden: menarche status: perimenopausal or postmenopausal
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  4. 4.Viral (Norovirus) Infection

    Noroviruses are a group of related viruses that leads to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps. These viruses cause gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines. When the diarrhea and/or vomiting is severe, dehydration can occur. Symptoms of dehydration include a dry mouth, dizziness, urinating less frequently and dark urine.

    You can safely treat this condition at home. Make sure you drink plenty of water and fluids (Gatorade, Pediatlyte) to replace what is lost with diarrhea. If symptoms of dehydration occur or you are unable to keep down any liquids, seek care at your primary care physician or an urgent care.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, headache, stomach bloating
    Symptoms that always occur with viral (norovirus) infection:
    hidden: gastroenteritis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with viral (norovirus) infection:
    severe abdominal pain, throbbing headache, severe headache, tarry stool
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

    Muscle Aches Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having muscle aches.

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  5. 5.Recurrent Depression

    Depression, once diagnosed, can often recur with new episodes. Sometimes these episodes can be similar to ones in the past, sometimes the symptoms can be different. It's good to be aware off the fact that people who had a depression before, remain vulnerable.

    You should discuss your symptoms with your primary care physician or psychiatrist. Resumption of, or adjustment to current treatment is often needed.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, stomach bloating, loss of appetite
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Acute Viral Sinusitis

    Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus spaces behind the nose and cheeks. These spaces produce mucus, which drains into the nose. If the nose is swollen or if the mucus does not drain, this can block the sinuses and cause pain or infection.

    You can treat your symptoms at home using ibuprofen (for pain) and Tylenol (for a fever). Antibiotics for this diagnosis are not helpful because this is likely a viral infection.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, cough, sore throat, sinusitis symptoms, muscle aches
    Symptoms that always occur with acute viral sinusitis:
    sinusitis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with acute viral sinusitis:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  7. 7.Influenza

    Influenza, or Flu, is an infection of the airway caused by the flu virus, which passes through the air and enters the body through the nose or mouth. The symptoms are similar to those of a cold, but the flu is usually more serious.

    If your flu-like symptoms are existing for less than 48 hours, it might be helpful to seek care by telephone or in a walk-in-clinic to get a course of oseltamivir (Tamiflu). Most people will get better on their own by drinking lots of fluids and taking an over-the-counter medication such as acetominophen (Tylenol) to help with aches or fever.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, cough, muscle aches
    Symptoms that never occur with influenza:
    headache resulting from a head injury
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  8. 8.Coxsackie b Virus Infection

    Coxsackie B Virus usually doesn't cause any symptoms but can be the cause of nonspecific fever and, in rare cases, lung or heart infections. The disease is most common in children but adults are susceptible too.

    Coxsackie B Virus infection ends on its own and does not even need a true diagnostic test. Treatment is not necessary, but over the counter medication to symptomatically treat pain and fever might be helpful.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, nausea
    Symptoms that always occur with coxsackie b virus infection:
    fever
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  9. 9.Viral Pneumonia

    Viral pneumonia is inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the lungs due to infection with a virus. Community-acquired pneumonia is the most common type, which is usually acquired in public areas such as at work, school, or grocery store.

    You should see a care provider to be treated and for evaluation of severity of your symptoms. Viral pneumonia is NOT treated with antibiotics, and you may find over-the-counter medications for pain and fever to be helpful.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, cough, shortness of breath, loss of appetite
    Symptoms that never occur with viral pneumonia:
    unexplained bruising
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Muscle Aches Treatments and Relief

Seek immediate treatment in the emergency room or call 911 if:

  • You have intense pain in a particular muscle, which gets worse if you try to stretch or move it, along with numbness, tightness, pins-and-needles sensation, or even paralysis.
  • You have severe muscle aching – either in one spot or seemingly all over – along with pronounced weakness, muscle swelling, mental confusion, and dark-colored urine -- this can be rhadbomyolysis and is serious.

Schedule an appointment with your medical provider if:

  • You have ongoing, deep, aching muscle pain that does not respond to rest and actually interferes with sleep.
  • You are taking a statin medication. Your medical provider may be able to change you to a different one or substitute another class of medications altogether.
  • You have unexplained and rather sudden aching in the muscles of the shoulders, especially when first getting out of bed.

Remedies you can try at home:

  • Rest, which is the treatment of choice for sore, overworked muscles.
  • Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen and naproxen.
  • Ice for an acute injury
  • Hot pads, hot water bottles, and hot tubs can be very relaxing for all-over muscle aching and stiffness.
  • Stretching, strengthening, and conditioning exercises.
  • Relaxation techniques to help manage emotional stress.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Muscle Aches

  • Q.How long has your muscle pain been going on?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Are you experiencing a headache?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our muscle aches symptom checker.

Take a quiz

Muscle Aches Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced muscle aches have also experienced:

    • 10% Fatigue
    • 5% Headache
    • 4% Nausea
  • People who have experienced muscle aches had symptoms persist for:

    • 35% Less Than a Week
    • 27% Less Than a Day
    • 22% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced muscle aches were most often matched with:

    • 9% Common Cold
    • 5% Acute Bacterial Sinusitis
    • 2% Symptoms of Menopause

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Muscle Aches Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having muscle aches.

Take a quiz