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Muscle aches and pains

5-minute read

Key facts

  • Muscle aches and pains, also called myalgia, can happen anywhere in the body where there is muscle tissue.
  • Symptoms of muscle aches and pains may be mild to severe, and your muscles may be sensitive to touch.
  • To understand why you are having muscle aches and pains, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms, examine you and may order further tests.
  • The treatment of muscle aches and pains depends on what the cause is, but may include rest, pain medicines and applying heat to the area.

What are muscle aches and pains?

Muscle aches and pains, also called myalgia, can be felt anywhere in the body where there is muscle tissue. Muscle pain usually affects a specific part of the body at a time. It often occurs after a particular movement or activity. Sometimes muscle pain can be more widespread and affect many parts of the body at once.

What symptoms are associated with muscle aches and pains?

If you have muscle aches and pains, you may have mild to severe pain in muscles anywhere in your body. Your muscles may also be sensitive to touch.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What causes muscle aches and pains?

Muscle aches and pains may be caused by the following:

Certain medicines can also cause muscle aches and pains, so check with your doctor or pharmacist if your muscle pain starts soon after starting a new medicine. Do not stop taking a prescribed medicine without first checking with a health professional.

When should I see my doctor?

You should see your doctor if you have muscle aches and pains that:

  • are severe and impact your daily function
  • are not getting better with time and with rest

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

How are muscle aches and pains diagnosed?

To understand why you are having muscle aches and pains, your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and examine you. Your doctor may refer you for further tests like blood tests, an x-ray, ultrasound or CT scan.

How are muscle aches and pains treated?

The treatment of muscle aches and pains depends on what the cause is:

  • Your doctor may suggest that you take various medicines to help with the pain.
  • Applying heat to painful muscles can sometimes help.
  • If your muscle is injured, resting your muscles is important.
  • A physiotherapist may be able to help you manage muscle pain, especially if it is caused by injury.

Can muscle aches and pains be prevented?

Not all muscle aches and pains can be prevented. Some muscle pain, like back pain, can be prevented if you:

Complications of muscle aches and pains

When muscle aches and pains continue for longer than a few weeks, this is known as chronic pain. Chronic pain, if not managed well, can cause social isolation, anxiety and depression. If you are experiencing chronic pain, it is important to see your doctor and have a thorough examination to find out the cause of the pain.

Resources and support

You can also call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 at any time to speak to a registered nurse (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria) for more information and advice.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2023


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