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Muscle or Joint Pain?

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Is it muscle pain or joint pain that you are experiencing?

Joints and muscles are linked together closely in the musculoskeletal system and sometimes distinguishing between joint pain and muscle pain can be extremely difficult and frustrating. Joints are formed by ligaments attaching to bones, while muscles are attached to bones with tendons.

Ligaments, tendons, muscles and the bones they attach to form Joint Complexes.

Joints and muscles are tied so closely together that oftentimes a single injury affects both.

Isolated joint or muscle injuries are certainly possible, but the inseparable nature of the two means that injury affecting one can easily affect the other. Both the location and nature of the actual pain are good start when trying to distinguish between joint and muscle related afflictions.

Joint Pain

In a survey conducted by the CDC between 2007 and 2009, it was reported that one in five Americans suffer from joint pain and that the number is on the rise.

What does joint pain feel like?

In general, a dull ache signifies a joint injury. Popping, crackling or creaking sounds also indicate joint pain. Steps to treat existing joint pain can be taken in the home, but recent joint injuries might need medical treatment.

Oftentimes these injuries are caused by sports and other activities instead of by chronic conditions, those athletic endeavors can certainly lead to ongoing conditions.

A sprain is caused when ligaments are overstretched or torn, causing the ligament to weaken considerably. When the ligament is weak the joint is very unstable, and sometimes swelling and internal bleeding. Even when the pain goes away sometimes the sprain is not healed, so a repeat injury will become much more likely.

It’s best to treat a recent joint injury as something serious unless a medical professional says otherwise.

As reported by Dr. Jim Hendricks in an article for GoodHealthUS , there are three degrees of joint injury:

3 Degrees of Joint Injury
A first-degree sprain is a minor stretch of the ligament while the integrity of the joint remains intact. Usual symptoms include mild pain and swelling.
With a second degree sprain the ligament stretch is more severe causing a partial tear of the ligament. This will result in increased pain, swelling and bleeding at the site of injury causing an ecchymosis at the site of the injury.
Third degree sprains occur when the ligament is completely torn or ruptured. Ruptures are joint injuries in which the fibers of the supporting ligaments become torn but the ligament does not remain in tact.

Muscle Pain

According to BioMedReports, 55% of all sports injuries are muscular injuries. For active people, muscular injuries are fairly common.

Beyond actual injury though, many suffer from both acute and chronic pain.

Muscular pain is usually sharper than joint pain if a recent injury has been suffered.

For ongoing conditions, muscle pain is usually dull and constant. Muscles are often sore after intense exercise, but it can also occur in people who repeat certain physical activities for long periods of time in the workplace. 

Strains are muscle injuries cause when a muscle is torn or stretched beyond its normal means. Strains generally happen at the spot where a muscle tapers into a tendon and connects to a bone. Most acute and chronic muscle pain can be treated at home, but it is worth noting that a recent muscle injury might warrant medical advice.

Dr. Hendricks sums up the three degrees of strains:

3 Degrees of Strains
First degree sprains are a mild injury to the tendon and or muscle and will cause pain, swelling and muscular spasm.
Second-degree muscle strains involve more tearing of muscle or tendon fibers and along with above symptoms, there will be a loss of muscular strength and a bleeding of the muscle that will result in an ecchymosis (black and blue) at the site of injury.
Third degree strains are a complete rupture of the muscle or tendon from the bone. In this case, there will be a complete loss of muscle function.


There are many options for reducing both joint and muscle pain in the home. Ginger, carrots and bananas can all go a long way toward pain relief. Exercising, especially in the water, can strengthen weakening joints and muscles without putting too much strain on them. Massage is especially helpful for muscle pain. Above all, drinking a lot of water is beneficial for all muscle and joint conditions. Heat and ice are also helpful, but it’s always good to research and be careful before applying either one.

Dr. Hendricks weighs in again: "For all acute injuries use ice for the first 48-72 hours. For muscular injuries I recommend implementing heat after about 72 hours. For joint injuries continue to use ice until the swelling resolves."

The synergy between joints and muscles means they are so deeply connected that most times an injury to one means an injury to the other.

Those who suffer from joint pain also often suffer from muscle pain.

The good news is that the prime source of the injury or pain can be pinpointed with a little bit of logic and common sense. There are many methods for relieving both joint and muscle afflictions. For serious injuries, however, it is always best to consult a physician or whoever you look to for medical care.

Ken Stanfield is a passionate blogger who spends his time researching and writing about health care, respiratory health, geriatric healthcare needs and humanitarianism. He is an online publisher for the medical walkers supplier JustWalkers.com.


"Muscle or Joint Pain?"

"Expert Briefing: Treating Skeletal Muscle Injuries With Pluristem's PLacental eXpanded (PLX) Cells" http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/expert-briefing-treating-skeletal-muscle-injuries-with-pluristems-placental-expanded-nasdaq-psti-1418103.htm

"CDC: Achy joints on the rise in U.S." http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/07/cdc-achy-joints-on-the-rise-in-u-s/

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