Differences Between Muscle Pain and Joint Pain

Muscle pain and joint pain are two common words amongst many men and women. It occurs irrespective of the age group and can take place due to physiological failures as well as drug impact or any other reason. Many people would regard this as pain and think it to be similar. However, these two are absolutely different from each other and should not be mistaken with one another, or to be the same.

Differences Between Muscle Pain and Joint Pain

Differences Between Muscle Pain And Joint Pain In Terms Of Definition

Muscle pain or muscle ache is a very common phenomenon that almost every person must have experienced under various circumstances. In medical terms, it is known as myalgia. It is a consequence or a symptom that dictates the presence of other physical disorders or diseases. Muscle pain can occur involving one or more muscles at a time. It is usually a localized pain, but at time, depending on the reason behind, it might feel throughout the entire body as a systematic muscle pain.

Joint pain on the other hand occurs, when the joints of bone structure throughout the body ache and pain. It is also known as Arthralgia. As the joints provide support to the entire body and helps it to move, it plays a crucial role. Any kind of injury or disease might interfere in the movement of the body parts and lead to severe pain.

Differences Between Muscle And Joint Pain With Respect To Symptoms:

The signs and symptoms of muscle and joint pain differ since the origin differs. Though some symptoms could be same, the type of pain experienced and the associated symptoms are different. Let’s take a look at the differences between these two pains.

Symptoms Of Muscle Pain:

Apart from the basic pain, that can be acute or immediate as well as long term pains, the other symptoms are:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Weakness in the localized area
  • Coordination problems between the affected muscle or tissue and the rest of the body
  • Paralysis in case of severe pain
  • Vomiting or fever, swallowing troubles in certain cases
  • Stiffness in neck and breathing troubles.

Symptoms Of Joint Pain:

Although the pain itself is quite acute and can be recognized from its typical and intense pain type, there are other symptoms too that can pronounce the cause of the pain generating from the joints. These are:

  • Swelling in local areas surrounding joints
  • A slight warmth and temperature rise in the area
  • Tenderness in the muscles surrounding the joints.

Differences Between The Muscle And Joint Pain In Terms Of Causes

Muscle and joint pain along with their differences based on the origin and symptoms, also have differences based on the causes of occurrence. In addition, depending on the causes the intensity and frequency can also vary.

Causes Of Muscle Pain

  • Muscle Tension or Stress: Too much tension or stress causes severe muscle pain at times. The body creates toxins as a result of stress and tension and this leads to pain in muscle. However, its extent and severity will depend on the level of stress and tension that you are having.
  • Over-activity: When you overuse your muscles by either exercising or by working too much for a long stretch, it is very likely that your muscles will start aching. Any physically demanding work that engages the muscles to take pressure mostly ends in muscle pain.
  • Injuries: Sometimes, stressful physical practice or exercise or any other kind of physical work might cause major or minor muscle injuries. These can be anything like sprains, strains or other muscle expansion or contraction. And these injuries lead to pain.
  • Medical conditions: Apart from tension, physical activity or injury, medical conditions or illness or diseases like flu, lupus (a disorder in the connective tissues) and lyme disease, fibromyalgia, dystonia, polymyositis, porphyria, dermatomyositis, rheumatoid arthritis, staph infection, rosky mountain spotted fever and claudication and many others can cause muscle pains.
  • Drug effect: Certain drugs like ACE inhibitors that are used to treat blood pressure and cholesterol, esp. fibrates, cocaine’s and statins can also cause muscle pain.

Causes Of Joint Pain:

Other Differences Between Muscle Pain And Joint Pain:

The very basic difference between joint pain and muscle pain is that joint pains are local, surrounds only the bruised and affected joints and whereas muscle pain can be widespread throughout the body.

Muscle pains usually sore the area and the ache increases when pressure is applied on the affected muscle. When the muscle is stretched due to some physical activities the pain increases. However, the easiest way to identify muscle pain and differentiate it from joint pains is that the pain reduces when there is not much activity. With routine exercising and walking systematically to reduce the muscle toxins, the muscle pain usually reduces down and gradually disappears. But if too much pressure is put on the muscles or if the muscles are engaged for long in any kind of physical activity, the muscles tighten, and the muscle knots become severely bruised.

The joint pain, on the other is deeper, intense and troubles every movement. In fact, joint pains, unlike muscle pains, can be felt even when there is absolutely no external activity taking place. When you are still, either sitting or laying down on bed, you might feel the joint pain in such an extent that you will not be able to move.

Some Tips To Get Relief From Muscle And Joint Pain

Joint and muscle pain are extremely distressing and many a times interfere with daily livelihood. It often influences the mobility and in extreme cases can damage the joints, muscle, and associated tendons and ligaments. It can also bring in deformity and in case where the pain is prolonged and is difficult to get rid of, it can also cause depression. Thus here are some tips to prevent the muscle and joint pain from worsening.

Dos For Muscle Pain And Joint Pain:

In case of muscle pains, the usual treatments that can be done by you at home are:

  • Applying a hot washed cloth or electric heating pad for 20 minutes, on the area where you have muscle pain
  • Taking warm shower or bath with epsom salt, the magnesium of which helps to relax the pain
  • Resting the aching area and releasing it from any excess pressure and engaging tasks like weight-lifting, high-impact activities
  • In case of inflammation or any strain or sprain, applying ice for one or two days is helpful
  • Take ibuprofen or similar drugs to reduce the pain
  • Do exercise and yoga to release the tension.

Don’ts For Muscle Pain And Joint Pain:

  • Don’t take stress or engage the muscles and joints in heavy exercises.
  • Don’t smoke or drink.
  • Do not lift too much weight.
  • Try to reduce weight in case of joint pain as with increased weight there is more burden on the affected joint.

Conclusion: Muscle and joint pain although they are different from each other and the intensity and frequency of pain could vary; both are equally distressing and troublesome. One can prevent muscle and joint pains by following the do’s and don’ts for maintaining a healthy muscle and joint. However, if the pain has already set in, consult a physician before taking any over-the-counter medicine and try to find the exact cause behind the pain as delaying to seek medical attention can worsen the situation in some cases.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 13, 2019

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