After an auto mechanic spends hours under a car or a writer spends all day in front of a computer, their muscles later complain at this overextension. Everyone gets a muscle ache once in a while, but chronic muscle pain can be a debilitating condition that deteriorates the quality of life of sufferers.
Muscle pain may be the result of a specific injury, a spasm, or a condition that affects ligaments and connective joint tissue, or it may be only one symptom of a broader condition, usually arthritis. It ranges in intensity, from infrequent aches to chronic, disabling pain. Many therapies promise muscle pain relief, and choosing between them depends on the cause of the pain, it's severity and duration, as well as the preference of the patient.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications, including acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, help alleviate muscle pain. Certain nutritional supplements may also provide muscle pain relief. Emu oil, for example, which is sometimes used to treat arthritis symptoms, may reduce muscle stiffness and tension.
Advocates of massage therapy claim that it can soothe aching muscles by releasing tension and allowing muscles to relax. The ancient tradition of acupuncture employs needles to achieve the same ends. Chiropractic may help ease muscle pain by correcting improper vertebral alignment that puts added pressure on back, leg, and neck muscles.
At-home treatments such as ice packs relieve muscle aches, as do physical aides such as back braces or wrist wraps, which reduce muscle strain by helping to hold joints and bones in their proper positions.
Specific exercises designed to increase muscle strength and flexibility may be prescribed by a doctor or physical therapist. A course of physical therapy will also educate patients on the importance of employing ergonomic tools, such as padded chairs and even sharper kitchen knives, in order to reduce muscle strain. A therapist will also teach proper methods of walking, sitting, lifting and performing repetitive movement that will prevent future problems.