Top 10 Causes of Muscle Pain

Top 10 Causes of Muscle Pain

Muscle pain can cause serious discomfort and make daily activities a chore. The more you know about the causes of your muscle pain, the better you can treat it and find relief. Let’s take a closer look at the top 10 causes of muscle pain.

Top 10 Causes of Muscle Pain

  1. Muscle Strain or Sprain
  2. Repetitive Motion
  3. Sleep Deprivation
  4. Tension and Stress
  5. Overuse
  6. Poor Posture or Form
  7. Electrolyte Imbalance
  8. Fibromyalgia
  9. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  10. Medication Side Effects

Muscle pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. You can usually find relief from muscle pain symptoms if you can determine the underlying causes. Sometimes finding relief is as simple as changing your posture, getting more sleep, or stretching to improve blood flow before a workout. Other times, muscle pain may be caused by an illness, injury, or reaction to medicine. By understanding the causes of your discomfort, you’ll be able to take the proper steps to eliminate your muscle pain.

1. Muscle Sprain or Strain 

Minor injuries can cause anything from nagging discomfort to severe pain. The most common minor injuries that cause muscle pain are sprains and strains. A sprain is when the ligament gets stretched or torn. Ligaments are the fibrous tissue in your joints that connect two bones.

Most commonly, people experience sprains in their ankles as it’s very easy to roll or turn your ankle the wrong way causing the sprain.

Sprains are accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Limited mobility
  • A popping feeling or sound when injured

Strains are very similar to sprains in that they are a stretching or tearing within your muscle or tendon. Strains most commonly occur when trying to lift something too heavy, causing significant lower back muscle pain.

Another common place to suffer a muscle strain is in the hamstring, which is the muscle in the back of your thigh. A hamstring strain can cause severe leg muscle pain. Strains have similar symptoms as sprains, with the exception of bruising and the popping sound at the time of injury.

To find muscle pain relief from a sprain or strain, you should elevate your injured muscle, and apply ice to it regularly. Rest the muscle from strenuous activity and apply compression, such as placing a wrap around the injured area. In extreme cases, you may need to see a doctor for more involved physical therapy or surgery to repair the tear from your injury.

2. Repetitive Motion

You’ve likely heard of tennis elbow, an injury that got its name because tennis players experience it regularly from repeating the same motion over and over again. This repetitive motion for tennis players causes arm pain because they don’t cross train those muscles properly. Our muscles require a variety of motion, and too much repetition will likely begin to cause muscle pain. This form of muscle pain can happen to anyone and isn’t limited to sports injuries. Any repetitive motion, including cleaning the floor or other regular household chores, can cause this form of muscle pain.

Repetitive motion injuries can also include tendonitis and bursitis. Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon, which is the fiber that connects your bones and muscles. Given the role the tendon plays in the body, it’s no surprise that inflammation of the tendon would lead to muscle pain.

Bursitis can accompany tendonitis or occur on its own. It’s caused by inflammation of the bursa, which is a lubricating sac that decreases rubbing and friction between muscles, bone, skin, and tendons. This injury is often found in the elbow, shoulder, hip knee or Achilles tendon.

The best treatment for these injuries is rest and applying ice. If pain persists, you certainly want to see your doctor for a medical evaluation.

3. Sleep Deprivation


Your body needs sleep to heal and repair itself. When you fail to sleep properly, you may experience moderate to severe muscle pain. Adults need six to eight hours of sleep for optimal health. This allows your body’s tissues and cells the time they need to repair.

While you may be allowing your body the necessary six to eight hours of rest, you might be struggling to actually fall asleep once you’re in bed. A good way to combat this is to establish nighttime routines that prepare your body for sleep. The best activities right before bed are those that promote relaxation, such as a cup of tea (just be sure it’s decaf), meditation to help you relax all your muscles and forget the worries of the day, reading a book, enjoying a podcast, or turning on a white noise machine each night that signals to your body that it’s bedtime.

As you develop an effective bedtime routine and start to sleep more, your muscles should recover and stop causing you pain.

4. Tension and Stress

Stress leads to tension. Too much tension and strain in your body can cause muscle spasms, stiffness, and aching muscle pain. Tension most commonly results in neck and shoulder muscle pain, as most tension occurs in the upper body. The best thing to do when your muscle pain is caused by tension is to identify the causes of such anxiety and find effective coping mechanisms for those triggers. If you treat the cause of the stress in your life, your muscle and joint pain will likely improve.

5. Overuse

When you overuse your muscles, it can cause muscle pain. Athletes are likely to experience muscle pain from strenuous physical activity, as the fibers of the muscles are in a constant state of tearing and repairing themselves. 

The best way to treat overuse injuries is to rest from the exercises that are causing your pain. Consider limiting the activity for a short period of time. It’s best to continue gently using that muscle group so sudden atrophy doesn’t lead to even more muscles aches and soreness. Incorporate cross-training into your routine to exercise those muscles in different ways to prevent future overuse injuries.

6. Poor Posture or Form

When you use your muscles in an improper way, it can lead to injury and pain. When your body is in an unnatural position for prolonged periods, it leads to a form of muscle strain.

The most common poor-posture injuries come from desk workers who slouch in their chair eight hours a day. You should make every effort to straighten your spine and not hunch your back throughout the day. Be careful you aren’t spending too much time with your phone cradled on your shoulder as these can also cause posture strains on your muscles. Additionally, women who wear heels regularly place the lower back in an unnatural curvature, leading to pain and discomfort.

Sore muscles can be caused by poor form as well. This can be caused by exercising improperly at the gym, such as when weight lifting or running on the treadmill, or from awkwardly lifting any heavy object around the house. Just like poor posture, poor form puts added strain on muscles that aren’t prepared for that sort of movement, leading to discomfort and pain.

Those who suffer muscle pain from poor posture or form can find relief by simply correcting these bad habits. Your posture can often be fixed by simply being aware of the issue and correcting your posture. In time, you’ll develop a positive habit and begin to use good posture naturally. Poor form may require help from an expert who can show you how to properly complete the activity, such as a personal trainer or instructor at work.

7. Electrolyte Imbalance

A common form of muscle pain is a muscle cramp. Muscle cramps can happen when you have an improper electrolyte balance in your body. Electrolytes are essential minerals your body needs, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. These minerals are necessary for proper muscle contraction. When muscle contraction is slowed due to an electrolyte imbalance, you end up with painful muscle cramps.

To ensure proper balance, be sure you’re well hydrated and receive enough of these essential minerals, either through a sports drink, a diet rich in these minerals, or supplements.

8. Fibromyalgia         

Fibromyalgia is a neurological condition that affects 10 million people in the United States. Fibromyalgia symptoms include fatigue, insomnia, sensitivity to touch, and pain throughout the body– including muscle pain. 

Symptoms of fibromyalgia can be difficult to pin down because fibromyalgia pain can move from place to place within the body. Fibromyalgia symptoms in women are much more common than they are in men and tend to be more prevalent in individuals with muscle, joint or bone conditions, such as arthritis.

It is believed that Fibromyalgia symptoms can be triggered by physical trauma, such as surgery, or an infection, but the underlying cause of the illness is not well known. There are medications that can treat fibromyalgia symptoms so that you don’t have to live with daily chronic pain.

9. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome can cause pain in all muscles in the body. Those who suffer from this condition feel exhausted and weak regardless of how much rest and sleep they get.

Due to the fatigue from this syndrome, your body’s muscles can’t repair themselves as they normally would, which causes pain in the muscles and joints. In addition to feeling pain throughout the entire body, additional symptoms include insomnia, sore throat, headache, forgetfulness, and confusion.

Muscle weakness from chronic fatigue syndrome is not something you simply have to endure. There are underlying causes of this condition, including anxiety, depression, and obesity. If these conditions are treated, you can recover from chronic fatigue syndrome and live a very full life.

You can learn to manage chronic muscle or joint pain. Be sure to read our article on pain relief for chronic muscle and joint pain.

10. Medication Side Effects

If you’ve tried everything to evaluate and solve your muscle pain without relief, you may want to look at the labels on any medications you’re taking. Muscle pain and soreness are very common side effects for many popular medications, including Lipitor, Ambien, and Omeprazole.

If this is the source of your pain, discuss your muscle pain with your doctor to determine if there is a comparable drug you can take to treat your conditions. By adjusting your medication, you may find muscle pain relief and be able to resume your normal activities.

Additional Muscle Pain Treatments

As you work to address the issues causing your pain, you may find temporary relief from muscle pain by using over-the-counter medication. Ibruprofin can offer short-term pain relief and help reduce swelling. However, it’s important to understand that OTC pills are not a sustainable long-term treatment plan. Prolonged use of pain medication can cause serious side effects, including liver and kidney damage, and stomach pains.

Instead of relying on over-the-counter pain relievers, consider treating your muscle pain with a topical pain relief cream such as Wonder Pain Relief. Topical creams have minimal side effects and are much safer than pain medication. Wonder Pain Relief is effective in treating many forms of muscle pain and can safely be a part of your long-term pain management strategy. It’s the only topical cream which contains wogonin, a natural anti-inflammatory agent extracted from the Skullcap plant. By applying Wonder Pain Relief directly to the sore muscle, you can quickly target the source of your pain for fast, long-term relief. 

Muscle pain can be caused by a variety of reasons. Depending on the type of muscle pain, you may find relief by relieving stress and tension, adjusting your posture, resting overworked muscles, or using a topical pain relief cream as needed. Other home remedies for treating muscle pain include stretching, massage therapy, and a change in diet.

Of course, the best way to treat muscle pain is to address the issue causing it. If you have trouble determining the cause of your pain, or you find these remedies are not effective, be sure to visit your doctor for a medical evaluation and further treatment options.