When to Head to the Doctor for Muscle Pain and Discomfort


Clients come in with muscle pain all the time. My active clients come in with soreness and aches related to their exercise schedule or new activities. Sedentary clients come in with muscle pain from inactivity or from starting a new exercise or hobby. In either case, the discomfort of muscles is something massage can address. Often, resting the muscles for a few days, using ice and elevation, self-massage and slowing reintroducing a normal range of motion over the affected joint will be enough to get the healing going. But, the duration of the discomfort along with accompanying symptoms can signal something more serious that needs to be addressed by your primary care physician.

I turned to one of my favorite medical sites, Mayoclinic.com to find some guidelines for you on when to take your muscle pain to the doctor.

Schedule an office visit if you have:

  • Muscle pain that lasts longer than a week
  • Signs of infection, such as redness and swelling, around a sore muscle
  • Poor circulation and muscle pain in your legs

via Muscle pain: When to see a doctor – MayoClinic.com.

For more serious symptoms that might be signs of a more serious injury or a drug interaction, you’ll need to contact your doctor right away.

Call your doctor right away if you:

  • Have sudden, severe muscle pain that doesn’t go away or that recurs every time you exercise
  • Think you have a serious muscle strain or rupture
  • Have a tick bite or rash
  • Experience muscle pain after you start taking or increase the dosage of a medication — especially a statin

via Muscle pain: When to see a doctor – MayoClinic.com.

And in combination with some very serious symptoms, muscle pain can be association with stroke or heart attack. In these cases, seek medical care immediately.

Get immediate medical care if you have muscle pain with:

  • Trouble breathing or dizziness
  • Extreme muscle weakness
  • A high fever and stiff neck

via Muscle pain: When to see a doctor – MayoClinic.com.

Most of the time muscle pain can be healed without a trip to the doctor’s office, but knowing when to be concerned and when to get to the doctor right away can keep you and your family healthy. So keep these guidelines in mind and take some of the following information in when you see your primary care physician:

  • When did the pain start?
  • How long has it been bothering you?
  • Did it start after an injury?
  • Does any particular movement make it worse?
  • Does lack of movement (i.e. sitting or lying down) for long periods of time make it worse?
  • What is the most comfortable position for you?
  • What kinds of exercise/activity did you do the day of or the day before the injury?
  • Did you feel a pop or thump in your muscle or joint?
  • How has your daily activity been affected?
  • Have you noticed other areas of the body becoming sore, tight or tired because of injury?
  • Has it made a difference in your sleeping patterns? Is it worse at night?
  • Has this area of the body been compromised by an earlier injury or surgery?

Giving your medical practitioner this information can help the both of you figure out the underlying cause and how to treat the symptoms. For serious strains and pulls that don’t get better in a week or two, I always recommend clients go to a physician and ask if physical therapy might be a good treatment. In many cases of soft-tissue disorder, physical therapy is a great alternative to medication and surgery.

photo credit: flickr.com CCL – User: a.drian

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