Tips for Distinguishing Between Muscle and Joint Pain

Muscle and joint pain are both very common. You may be more likely to experience them frequently if you’re a professional or amateur athlete, or if your occupation requires repetitive or strenuous movements. When you visit a sports medicine specialist, such as a physiatrist, for muscle or joint pain, you’ll be asked to describe your symptoms in as much detail as possible. This helps your provider determine whether your symptoms are caused by muscle or joint pain.

Causes of Muscle and Joint Pain

One of the ways to distinguish between muscle and joint pain is to identify the underlying cause. The potential causes can overlap. For example, both muscle and joint pain may be caused by a sports injury. Other possible causes of muscle pain include the following:

  • Over-activity or excessive exertion
  • Muscle tension or stress
  • Infections, including influenza

Chronic medical conditions that can cause muscle pain include:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lyme disease
  • Lupus
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

Joint pain can also be the result of acute or chronic medical problems. Some of the possible causes of joint pain include:

  • Arthritis
  • Soft tissue injury (including ankle sprains)
  • Bursitis
  • Lupus
  • Cartilage damage
  • Broken bones
  • Joint dislocation
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Complex regional pain syndrome

Signs and Symptoms of Muscle and Joint Pain

Muscle and joint pain may feel achy or sharp, and it can range in severity from mild to debilitating. Muscle pain can also feel like a burning or cramping sensation. Aside from pain, other symptoms you may experience in the joints include:

  • Loss of range of motion, flexibility, and strength
  • Joint weakness
  • Joint stiffness
  • A grating sensation
  • An audible popping or clicking sound with movement

Other symptoms you may experience with muscle pain include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Muscle spasms

Along with understanding the specific types of symptoms you have, it can be helpful for the healthcare provider to know when they developed. Let your provider know how you injured yourself, if you were previously diagnosed with a related medical condition, and whether you’ve already tried treatments for pain relief.

If you have muscle or joint pain, you need rapid relief that lasts. Call Manhattan Total Health at (888) 614-9257 to request an appointment at our locations in Gramercy, Midtown, Wall Street, Grand Central, or the West Side. We offer complete sports medicine services in New York, NY, including chiropractic care, physical therapy, and acupuncture.

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