Joint and muscle pain represent two different medical conditions. While muscle pain is pain felt when the body is in motion, joint pain is more often felt when the body is at rest.
It's important to understand the different symptoms related to joint and muscle pain, as both conditions must be addressed in a specific way.
Muscle Pain vs. Joint Pain: How to Tell the Difference
Though the causes of muscle and joint pain may overlap, it's usually possible to distinguish between the two.
Muscle spasms often accompany muscle pain, in which case the discomfort can sometimes be alleviated through movement to help release any toxins or lactic acid that have built up. Muscle pain typically subsides when you aren't using the affected muscle, and rest is often the best cure.
Joint pain usually takes longer to heal than muscle pain and may come with swelling of the affected joint. Since joint pain goes deeper than a muscle injury, it will likely continue to hurt even when you're resting.
Causes of Muscle Pain
Causes of muscle pain may include:
- Injury, strain, or overuse of a specific muscle. This is common for people who begin an exercise regimen after extended periods of inactivity.
- An infection or illness in the body. In these cases, symptoms can mirror joint pain.
- Hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, or influenza.
- Medical conditions such as polymyalgia rheumatica, fibromyalgia, and Lyme disease.
Causes of Joint Pain
Joint pain affects the cartilage, ligaments, and bones and is often caused by an injury to a specific joint. Other common causes of joint pain include:
- Various medical conditions such as rheumatic fever, avascular necrosis, bone cancer, gout, fibromyalgia, and Lyme disease.
- Arthritis, including both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Muscle Pain Relief
Muscle pain may be relieved by:
- Resting the affected area.
- Applying ice to reduce pain or discomfort.
- Massaging the distressed area.
- Gently stretching the muscles.
- Avoid weight-bearing and high-impact exercises until the muscle is healed.
Joint Pain Relief
If you suffer from joint pain, try these at-home remedies for relief:
- Alternating the use of cold and hot packs.
- Take an Epsom salt bath.
- Low-impact exercise to keep joints flexible and mobile.
If your pain is worse, seek help from an orthopedic surgeon. They may recommend anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy. If your joint pain is severe, you may need surgery.
Preventive measures you can take to relieve joint pain in the long term include adjusting your diet to include more anti-inflammatory foods as well as adding more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
Get Help for Muscle or Joint Pain Today
For more information about muscle and joint treatment, speak with a specialist near you. Call our office or request an appointment with one of our orthopedic surgeons today to learn more.