Several causes can explain muscle pain: a sudden injury like a muscle strain or strain, repetitive movements or aches after exerting force, etc. A variety of healthcare professionals can help you relieve these pains and prevent their recurrence.
Primary causes of muscle pain
How to tell the difference between a pull, a tear and a muscle strain?
A strain is, by definition, a partial or complete tearing of a muscle. Muscle strain and muscle tear are therefore two terms that refer to the same injury. When the degree of severity is low and the muscle fibres did not reach the breaking point, then it is called muscle stretching (also called elongation).
This type of injury mainly occurs when a great force is exerted as the muscle reaches its maximum stretch. Many athletic movements, especially those with rapid changes in direction, can cause a muscle strain or strain.
The muscles most at risk are those that pass through two joints, such as the gastrocnemius (the calf muscle), the hamstring (the muscle behind the thigh), and the rectus femoris (one of the muscles that form the quadriceps at the front of the thigh).
The main symptom of a stretch or muscle strain is the presence of pain in the affected muscle, often sharp at the beginning. You may notice a loss of strength and range of motion that prevents you from continuing with your current activity. Subsequently, swelling, warmth or hematoma may occur at the site of injury.
Is it normal to have body aches?
Muscle soreness after heavy, sustained or new physical exertion is completely normal. This is caused by micro tears in the muscle fibres that the body repairs on its own and that help the muscles grow further.
Symptoms of body aches are often described as deep, diffuse pain, sometimes in the form of heaviness or fatigue, which may be accompanied by a feeling of stiffness. The muscles are painful when moving and may also be sensitive to the touch. These symptoms usually last between 24 and 48 hours after exercise.
Other factors can cause body aches, such as a viral infection, stress or dehydration. In these situations, it is recommended to consult a doctor to determine the cause.
How do you know if you have tendinitis?
The main symptom associated with tendonitis is the presence of pain. Small local swelling and redness are also possible.
Tendinitis is the inflammation of a tendon, the structure that connects muscle to bone, after a shock or a large and unusual muscle contraction. Unlike muscle stretching, straining, or aching, the pain is more at the end of the muscle (usually the joint) where the tendon is connected.
Tendinitis is often confused with the more common tendinosis, which is chronic irritation of the tendon often caused by repetitive movements.
How do you treat muscle pain?
Expert advice: How to treat a muscle strain
To promote the healing of the affected muscle, preferably from the first days, follow these 3 tips:
- Take a short rest period
If certain activities increase your pain during or after movement, stop doing them for a few days. However, avoid complete rest and continue activities that do not increase pain, as movement is the best way to promote healing.
- Apply compression
Wrap an elastic bandage over the painful area to limit swelling (edema), support the injured muscle and facilitate your movements. Be careful not to cut off blood circulation. If you notice loss of sensation, discolouration or numbness, it migh be a sign that the bandage is too tight.
- Elevate the limb
Elevate the affected limb to a position above the heart, as often as possible, to limit swelling (edema).
Which professional should you consult?
Different professionals often work together to maximize results. If in doubt, we recommend that you first consult a physiotherapist so that they can assess your needs and the treatments required for your muscle pain. If necessary, they will recommend other professional(s) to consult in order to optimize your rehabilitation.
Why consult a physiotherapist?
After a thorough assessment, a physiotherapist will explain the origin of your muscle pain and offer you a treatment plan based on your goals. Different options can be considered such as exercises specific to your condition, joint mobilizations and muscle relaxation techniques. Your physiotherapist will also give you advice on how to relieve pain and get back to your activities.
Why consult an occupational therapist?
An occupational therapist will assess the impact of your muscle pain on your usual abilities such as working, doing household chores and hobbies. Their treatments, which can take the form of strengthening exercises or simulating work tasks, for example, will help you maximize your autonomy at each stage of your recovery.
Why consult an osteopath?
Using a variety of manual techniques, an osteopath will treat the mobility restrictions that can affect all the structures of your body (bones, muscles, ligaments, viscera, etc.) in connection with your muscle pain. Improved mobility enables the body to recover better and decreases pain.
Why consult a massage therapist?
A massage therapist will work primarily to release tension in the superficial and deep tissues related to your muscle pain to help you reduce pain and move more freely. Their treatments will also help increase blood circulation to promote better recovery.
Why consult an acupuncturist?
Through various techniques and using therapeutic tools such as needles and suction cups, an acupuncturist will work to reduce pain, stress, muscle tension and inflammation that may be related to your muscle pain.
Why consult a kinesiologist?
A kinesiologist will teach you how to do suitable exercises, after assessing your movement ability and your physical condition in relation to your muscle pain, so that you can resume your activities.