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Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.

Myalgia Definition

Myalgia is not a medical disorder or disease but more of a symptom of an existing underlying condition. Myalgia is known as a muscle ache or muscle pain. It is a common condition that almost everyone has had at one time or another. The pain in the muscle can last a just a few days or for much longer. It can be a pain that a person feels on a continual basis. The pain can also range from mild to excruciating. It all depends on where the muscle is located in your body and what the underlying condition is as to what you feel with it and how long it lasts. It can affect any part of your body including your hands, back, neck, arms, and legs. It is basically a non-life threatening, non-serious problem that can be discomforting.

Myalgia Types

Every part of your body is composed of muscles which are soft tissues that contain protein fibers, which create contraction to change both the shape and length of a cell. Your muscles are responsible for creating force and motion that allows a human to move. The type of myalgia a person has will define the part of your body that is being affected along with the number of muscles that are involved in the process of pain. This also includes the cause of the pain.

These types of myalgia include:

Epidemic myalgia

This is also known as Bornholm disease and is muscle pain that is caused by a viral infection. It will usually hit your lower chest and upper abdomen area. The pain associated with this type is characterized the type that develops suddenly and has spasmodic pain. With each deep breath and every movement the pain becomes worse causing shortness of breath to the individual that is affected.


This is a type of myalgia that is widespread and not only affects your muscles but also your ligaments and joints. The pain with this type of myalgia will give you a constant ache that is dull and can be perceived on both sides of your body. This type is often aggravated by pressure applied on the site that is affected. This form is commonly associated with osteoarthritis, lupus, headaches, insomnia, irritable bowel movements, and extreme fatigue.

Trapezius myalgia

This type involves the muscles of your neck. It is often triggered by a problem with your trapezius muscle. The pain is not particularly reactive to stressful situations, and repetitive workouts, and the pain is long-lasting. This type of myalgia is most commonly found in women who work for long periods of time in front of a computer.

Polymyalgia rheumatica

This type of myalgia involves several muscles and is an anti-inflammatory disorder. It usually affects older people over the age of fifty and very seldom happens to anyone under the age of fifty. It is often associated with inflammation and stiffness in the muscles of your shoulders, hips, neck, buttocks, and upper arms.

Symptoms of Myalgia

There are many different symptoms but what they will be depends on the area that is being affected and the type of myalgia.

  • The most common symptom of myalgia is the pain that is often severe. The onset of pain is usually sudden and will linger for a few days to many weeks. It all depends on the cause and intensity of the pain. The pain is often associated with spasms and stiffness. The pain can also be continual.
  • When a person has an acute case of myalgia it can severely incapacitate your.
  • For chronic cases of myalgia it is usually marked with stiffness and pain after periods of being inactive. After reasonable exercise the pain will usually ease up.
  • When it affects your cervical manifest with heaviness of your head accompanied with an occipital headache
  • Cervical myalgia can also manifest with problems swallowing, numbness of your face, and vision impairment,
  • When the chest muscles are involved in myalgia it could cause difficulty in breathing in and out.
  • When the myalgia involved your heart you could experience irregular heartbeats and is also a potential for cardiac arrest.
  • You may also notice the affected area is tender to the touch.

Other symptoms that you might notice can include:

  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Fever
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Stiffness
  • Tingling and numbness in your arms and other parts of your body
  • Vertigo


The most common cause is stress or tension that results from excessive use of the muscles that are affected or from an injury. The myalgia can be localized and involve just one or more muscles. You can also get myalgia because of compulsive exercises. Strenuous or severe pulling activities of your ligaments can also result in muscle pain. It can also develop as a consequence of some disorder or disease that could be in existence in a person that suffers from myalgia. Some of the disorders and diseases that can cause myalgia include:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome – this disorder is marked by extreme fatigue and of the eight official symptoms of this disorder, muscle pain is one of them.
  • Chronic exertional compartment syndrome – this is a syndrome that causes muscle and nerve pain that is induced by an exertion of exercise.
  • Eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome – this is a rare autoimmune and inflammatory disease that causes inflammation and pain of your nerves, blood vessels, skin, muscles, and lungs.


Because it is a symptom and not a medical disorder or condition there is no direct diagnosis recommended. The physician will usually take a medical history and do a physical exam to find out what the underlying cause it. The physician may also do blood tests if needed.


The main treatment is to alleviate the pain in order to provide comfort and relief for the patient. What treatment is used also depends on what the underlying condition or cause is for the myalgia and the type of myalgia you are experiencing. You can help alleviate the pain of myalgia with some of these natural treatments you can do at home.

  • Be sure to get enough rest to help reduce the inflammation that is causing the pain.
  • To help reduce inflammation and relax the muscle(s) you can apply warm or cold packs.
  • Gently massaging the muscle can help reduce the inflammation and pain
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication.

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