The problem of muscle pain relief has long been the subject of study by specialists. Although muscle pain (myalgia) does not pose any danger to health, it substantially limits mobility and reduces the quality of a person’s life. It is no accident that myalgia is one of the frequent reasons for visiting a doctor.
An increased risk of muscle pain exists in people, who:
- have incorrect posture
- lead a sedentary lifestyle
- are suffer from various injuries of the musculoskeletal system
Muscle pain relief is significantly hampered, when myalgia is accompanied by fever or concomitant pain symptoms in the neck, shoulder, thorax, hips, or back.
Muscle aches can occur due to:
- excessive physical exertion;
- long stay in an uncomfortable or incorrect position;
- chronic disease (including arthritis, fibromyalgia and radiculitis).
However, the most common causes of myalgia are various injuries and traumas. Means and methods of muscle pain relief depend on the stage of damage to muscle tissue:
- contracture – muscle spasm
- muscle fever – the so-called Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness (DOMS)
- rupture of muscle fibers
- partial muscle rupture
- complete muscle rupture
Contracture occurs due to increased myostatic tone of the muscles. People feel dull, dragging and poorly localized pain. Muscle spasms do not require any specific treatment, but they can be a harbinger of more serious injuries.
Muscle fever is usually caused by reversible changes in muscle fibers without damages to the connective tissue. Pain occurs several hours or days after muscle overload. Symptomatic treatment with NSAIDs is sufficient to treat the DOMS.
Muscle strains may be caused by micro-ruptures of fibers, while the connective tissue remains intact. Strains can occur all of a sudden, and muscle pain relief in such case requires a relaxing massage and topical application of NSAIDs.
With the rupture of muscle fibers, a minor damage to the connective tissue is diagnosed. People feel a sharp stabbing pain, which is accompanied by muscle spasms. To treat muscle fiber rupture, intensive physiotherapy is used with hematopoietic growth factors (HGFs).
Partial muscle rupture is characterized by multiple damage to muscle fibers and connective tissue. People feel a pronounced localized pain. Partial muscle rupture requires complex treatment with analgesics, muscle relaxants and a general recovery program.
With a complete rupture of the muscles, people experience the most severe pain symptoms, since a transverse rupture of the muscle fibers takes place. Surgical intervention is a very probable option for muscle pain relief and restoration of the broken ends of muscles.
Myalgia can occur not only due to injury, damage or overexertion. Chronic muscle pains are divided into two types:
- inflammatory – myositis
- not inflammatory – myofascial syndrome
Myositis is an inflammatory lesion of the skeletal musculature. Myositis is characterized by local pain at the site of the lesion, which intensifies in movement or when muscles are touched.
If you do not use any means for muscle pain relief, the mobility of the joints is limited over time. Progression of myositis gradually limits the patient’s ability to self-service and leads to complete or partial muscle atrophy.
Unlike myositis, which is a response to inflammation, myofascial syndrome occurs in the absence of trauma, inflammation, degeneration, tumor or infection. A major role in the pathogenesis of myofascial syndrome is played by so-called trigger points – areas of increased irritability in tense skeletal muscles.
Chronic muscle pain can cover the limbs, muscles of the neck, face and head. Myofascial syndrome is characterized by the onset of muscle spasm followed by painful muscular densification, decreased mobility, and the appearance of a region of referred pain.
Algorithm of muscle pain relief:
- creating the conditions of complete rest for the patient;
- prescription of topical agents – creams, ointments, patches;
- oral administration of NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, glucocorticosteroids;
- local injections of anesthetics in the area of the greatest muscle pain;
- hot wet wrapping of the affected muscles;
- non-pharmacological methods – exercises for stretching muscles, relaxing massage and others.
The pharmacotherapy of muscle pain begins with the use of creams and ointments. Means for topical application are safe and convenient to use, and also provide the concentration of the drug directly in the source of pain and inflammation.
Nowadays, patches for muscle pain relief are gaining increasing popularity. Advantages of transdermal myalgia treatment:
- long duration of analgesic effect;
- possibility of prolonged, uniform administration of therapeutic doses of analgesic;
- localization of the drug outside the body, with a possibility of stopping its further introduction into the body, if necessary, by removing patch from the patient’s skin.
Oral medications, and namely NSAIDs and glucocorticosteroids, are used, if topical agents do not alleviate the symptoms of pain. They reduce the severity of the inflammatory reaction, relieve puffiness and provide an analgesic effect.
For muscle pain relief in myofascial syndrome, muscle relaxants are used, which reduce the flow of painful impulses. Muscle relaxants possess a membrane-stabilizing action and contribute to a decrease in musculoskeletal tension. Injections of muscle relaxants are used in the acute phase of myofascial pain.