How Do I Know If My Pain Is Muscular?

How Do I Know If My Pain Is Muscular?
How Do I Know If My Pain Is Muscular?

Do you think you have sore muscles? Are you worried it could be something more serious?

The good news is that muscle pain is very common and most of the time your pain should be nothing to worry about.

Almost everyone has experienced some form of muscle pain at some point in their lives.

It’s normal to have sore and aching muscles, particularly after you have worked out or perhaps done more strenuous activities than what you are used to.

You will know yourself that if you play golf all weekend or have that extra tough gym session you’re going to feel sore and stiff the next day.

In most cases after a few days of rest, added with hot and cold therapy your pain should have improved or completely went away.

However not all muscle related injuries are in relation to physical activity, sometimes it’s a sign of an underlying condition that could be more serious.

What you are feeling might not be muscular pain at all.

It’s important to know and understand if you have muscle pain or if it is something more serious as you may need additional medical support.

Physical Exercise

Runner holding his calf in pain

Overuse or injury to the muscles are the most common reasons for your muscle pain.

Extensive physical activity can often cause injuries to the muscles from over extending your muscles causing the muscles to tear or strain.

A muscle sprain or tear can be very painful but can often be treated with simple home remedies and rest.

As you get older and your muscles get weaker you become more susceptible to muscle injuries from the sports that you play.

However, even mundane tasks such as household chores can cause muscle soreness and general fatigue.

It’s about finding the balance and knowing what your body can handle.
When you perform an activity that your body is not accustomed to you will have a build up of lactic acid which causes soreness in the muscles affected.

Muscle soreness is likely to be the cause of your pain if you can pinpoint the reason for the pain.

For instance if you have been doing squats in the gym your quads are likely going to be sore for the next day or two.

You might feel it more whilst walking down your stairs at home, regretting each squat with every step you take.

But this pain should only last for a few days.

You should be able to recover from any minor muscle pulls or sprains from a few days rest accompanied by ice packs if the pain is particularly bad.

If you feel like you have torn a muscle whilst exercising this may take weeks or even months to fully recover from.

In this scenario it is best to see your doctor or physical therapist in order to find the best form of treatment for you.

Like any pain, if it has been lingering for more than a couple of weeks you should be seeking medical assistance as it may not be linked to physical activity.

Stress And Tension

Man holding his head due to being very stressed

Our bodies can handle stress relatively well in small doses however when the stress becomes more long term it can have a serious effect on your body.

Stress is a big factor when it comes to muscle pain.

When your body is stressed it causes the muscles to tense up as the body guards itself against injury and pain.

If your muscles are tensed up for a long period of time it can trigger other pains and reactions within the body.

One of the most common triggers is headaches.

Muscle tension in the shoulders and neck are often associated with migraines and tension headaches.

The most common areas affected by stress related muscle aches are the neck, back and shoulders.

Stress can also flare up other conditions that can lead to muscle pain such as fibromyalgia and arthritis.


Woman suffering from Fibromyalgia in bed

Fibromyalgia is a condition where people experience chronic pain in the muscles and joints.

It is estimated that around 4 million Americans suffer from fibromyalgia.

There is no known cure for fibromyalgia, however lifestyle changes and physical therapy are known to offer some relief.

Causes of fibromyalgia are known to be anxiety, stress, lack of exercise, poor sleep and some forms of viral infections.

You may also experience chronic fatigue as well as memory loss.

Fibromyalgia can often be triggered by a significant emotionally stressful event in your life.

The muscle pain you experience with fibromyalgia is often on both sides of the body, above and below the waist.

This is a serious condition that you will need help to recover with.

Lifestyle changes and putting yourself in less stressful situations can often manage the pain.


Senior man suffering from arthritis

The pain you’re experiencing may not be muscle related at all, in fact it could be a pain within your bones and joints.

It can be difficult to tell whether or not the pain is muscle or bone related as they both affect similar areas of the body.

However usually bone or joint pain will often feel sharper, lasts longer and is more intense than muscle pain.

If you are experiencing arthritis your muscles may also ache as the muscles tend to get weaker over time due to the lack of use.
Muscles help support the joints when they move so if you’ve been resting a joint for an extended period of time the muscles in the area will deteriorate causing the affected area to be weaker.

It is important to catch arthritis quickly and the longer you leave it the less quicker the joint will deteriorate.

The main symptoms of arthritis are swelling and tenderness of the joint.

Pain and symptoms will typically get worse as you get older.

It is important to exercise the affected area regularly to avoid the joint from stiffening up which results in less and less movement of the joint.

Arthritis is a condition that affects millions of people each year.

One of the easiest ways to ease pain and increase mobility is talking to a physical therapist who can get you on a personalized plan that is suited to your needs.


Man sitting on bed blowing his nose due to the flu he has

Any infection, even the common cold or a flu can leave your body feeling drained and make your muscles ache.

It is more common for a flu to cause muscle ache and we are seeing it more and more often particularly due to COVID-19.

This is because when you have a virus or a bacterial infection your immune system kicks off into action.

Of course this is good news as it is your body’s defenses kicking in and attempting to fight off the infection.

However your body fighting the infection can cause inflammation which can then lead you to that familiar feeling of your body aching during a cold or flu.

Often the worse the cold or flu is the harder your body needs to fight which results in more severe aching.

With infections the best course of action is just waiting for the virus to leave your system.

It is vitally important to stay hydrated as dehydration is another cause for why your muscles might be aching.


Bottle of water with splashes around it

Muscles require plenty of water to do their job.

So without enough fluid in your system your muscles can become at risk of muscle cramps and aches.

If you are dehydrated you will start to have a buildup of toxins which lead to inflammation and in turn will cause pain in your muscles.

This is why when you are doing exercise for any length of time it is vital to stay hydrated.

You are more likely to cramp up if you don’t control your water intake.

Being dehydrated also makes your muscle pain after a workout even more painful.

Can Physical Therapy Help My Pain?

Physical therapist helping her patient with exercises

Physical therapy can be the most effective and long lasting solution to any type of pain that you may have.

Relieving your pain in your muscles or joints is most commonly achieved through an exercise program created by your physical therapist.

We make sure these exercises will decrease any inflammation that you may have and try to increase mobility of the injured or painful area.

Here at Intecore PT our specialist team of physical therapists can make you a tailor made recovery program to get you feeling more like your old self.

We specialize in sports injuries and can treat anyone from your casual runner to high end athletes.

You can read our free guide “How To Get Fit And Stay Fit… With 7 Secret Recovery Strategies That Pro Athletes Know And Use” here.

It is very likely that we have a solution for your pain and injury which will see you exercising in the near future.

If you are unsure whether or not physical therapy is for you why not try our 20 minute FREE Discovery Session.

You’ll leave this session knowing exactly what is wrong and you will have a taster of how physical therapy works.

If you want to just jump in and see how we can help you we love to see you walk through the doors at one of our clinics.

Our team here at Intecore are friendly and enthusiastic about helping you.

Andrew Vertson