Myalgia, or muscular pain, is a very common phenomenon that many of us have experienced at some point, with some people experiencing it chronically. Often, the immediate response is to rush to your medicine cabinet or local drugstore. But drugs aren’t a natural or long-lasting method of pain alleviation. Nor are they the safest, in most cases.
There are better, more natural ways of getting rid of muscular pain.
Understanding the problem
In order to treat or mitigate muscular pain, it is important to first understand what causes it. The most common causes include muscle tension built up within the body, overuse of a muscle due to physical activity and muscle injury due to over-exertion. In many of these common cases, it is easy to pinpoint the cause of muscle pain. And as the age-old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. So, your first step towards pain management should be to cut out whatever causes it in the first place.
Muscular pain is also caused by some medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, polio, polymyositis, dermatomyositis, etc. as well as the usage of certain drugs such as ACE inhibitors, statins or cocaine. If your muscle pain does not go away after trying home treatment, or it is accompanied by something unusual (such as a rash or inflammation), then it is time to see a doctor.
Managing muscular pain
There are many ways of managing and mitigating muscular stress and pain without the use of medication. Drugs often provide temporary relief, and the human body builds up a tolerance for them over time, requiring higher and higher dosages. As you can imagine, there are often unwanted side-effects.
If you are experiencing muscular pain, here’s what you should do:
1. Reduce physical stress
The best course of action in treating any medical condition is to get rid of the cause, rather than the symptoms. As discussed, muscular pain is often caused by unusual physical activity – something you can easily think back to and identify.
So, the first thing you need to do is stop over-exerting your body. If you do a lot of heavy lifting, then take it down a notch and give your body time to rest. If you have to work long hours, then try to take a few 15-30-minute breaks in between to relax your body.
Whatever is causing the muscle stress, hold off on that activity for a while until the pain goes away.
2. Apply ice/cold water
Applying ice or cold water is more of a “quick fix,” and you need to do it immediately after the pain starts. There are quite a few ways you can go about it:
- Wrap some ice inside a cloth (to avoid skin burn) and apply it to the pain area
- Take a bottle of cold water and put it against the aching muscle(s)
- Take a cold bath/shower
Cold water/ice not only provides momentary relief from the pain but also reduces inflammation when a muscle is injured.
3. Relax and stretch
Stretching your muscles from time to time is perhaps the most effective way of reducing muscular pain. It isn’t effective for injured muscles, but if you’re someone who sits at an office desk all day, then you will find this method to be very effective.
Try to take out 5-10 minutes from your routine throughout the day and give your muscles some stretches. This will also give your body a quick refresher and keep stiffness away.
4. Massage therapy
One of the best ways of releasing pent-up tension within the body and relaxing the muscles is to get a massage. Even if you’re not having muscular pains, you should still go to a massage therapist once in a while for a full body workup. It keeps the muscles relaxed and stress-free.
If you don’t want to go to a professional, you can try massaging your own muscles. But make sure you do it gently because not knowing how to do it can sometimes worsen the problem. Make gentle, circular motions around the affected area to help relax the pain.
5. Use hot water
While ice helps reduce inflammation, hot water can sometimes relax the muscles and provide instant relief. Again, this can be done in several ways as well:
- Fill a bottle with (almost) boiling hot water, and let it cool down for a bit until you can tolerate it. Put the bottle against the affected area to relax the muscles. Be sure not to burn yourself though.
- Take the hottest shower you can tolerate without causing harm to your skin. This will freshen you up and relax your muscles
- Take a hot bubble bath with Epsom salts if available
- Although a little less effective, you can also take steam baths to relax your muscles
6. Exercise (walking/yoga)
Muscles tend to get sore/tense when they are not used-to exertion. Hence, trouble starts when you suddenly over-exert yourself. The best way to prevent muscle pain in the future is to exercise regularly. Walk for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour per day or do some yoga for relaxing muscles.
There are many smartphone apps to help you keep track of your exercise and work-outs. Injurymap is one such tool, and it is great at not only tracking your exercise but also tailoring an exercise plan for your specific needs, depending on how hard or easy it is for you to follow the given plan.
7. Set your diet and stay hydrated
A balanced diet is a key to a healthy lifestyle. The body doesn’t just need proteins and carbohydrates – it needs healthy fats as well, along with vitamins, minerals and fiber content. In fact, vitamins are extremely essential for keeping you healthy, sharp and active.
You don’t need to go on a radical diet to be healthy. Just make sure whatever you eat contains all the food groups.
Also, be sure always to stay hydrated. Not having enough water can also cause muscle fatigue since the muscles don’t get enough water content to recuperate. Try to have around 8-10 glasses of water a day at least.
These are some of the ways you can ease muscular pain without medication. Remember that not all muscle pains are caused by injury, over-exertion or tension within the body. Some viral infections, auto-immune diseases and other medical conditions such as hypo-/hyperthyroidism can also cause this phenomenon, which is why it is advisable to consult a doctor if:
- The pain does not go away after many days
- It is accompanied by rashes, rashes, swelling or unusual spots
- It is triggered by elevated temperatures
- Accompanied by fever, vomiting, reduced urination, breathing issues, stiffness in the body, etc.
Check your symptoms against fibromyalgia and other related conditions and go to your doctor in case of anything unusual. Be sure to consult one regularly and stay on top of your health! Good luck!