Muscle Pain vs. Joint Pain: What Is the Difference?

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:

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:

Muscle Pain Relief

Muscle pain may be relieved by:

Joint Pain Relief 

If you suffer from joint pain, try these at-home remedies for relief: 

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. 

Nick Flory Nick is the Marketing Manager for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. He has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2018.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Doctor vs. Podiatrist

Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Doctor vs. Podiatrist

When you have a problem with your foot or ankle that requires medical attention, who do you see for treatment — an orthopedist or a podiatrist? Many people think a podiatrist is the same as an orthopedist, but there are several significant differences betw
Orthopedic Surgeon Completing Arthroscopic Procedure

What Is an Orthopedic Surgeon?

Orthopedic surgeons treat conditions in the knee, shoulder, elbow, back, hand, foot, and more. Learn more about orthopedic surgery and how you can find the best doctor near you. Elite has 12 highly skilled orthopedic surgeons in Nashville, TN.
Pictured: Back doctor giving diagnosis

The Back Doctor - What You Should Know

Do you need to see a back doctor in Nashville, TN? Our team of fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons include some of the best spine specialists near you. Learn about symptoms and prevention of back pain and back conditions.
Hand Pain May Lead You to a Hand Doctor

The Hand Doctor - What You Should Know

Do you need to see a hand doctor in Nashville, TN? Our award-winning orthopedic surgeons include some of the best hand specialists near you. Check out this guide to see if you could live a lower pain lifestyle.
knee pain while biking

Cycling Knee

Cycling is a fantastic way to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle, but like any physical activity, it comes with its share of potential challenges. One common issue that avid cyclists may encounter is knee pain. Understanding the possible...