We all experience different types of muscle pain. It could be in the form of cramps, twitches, tremors, or spasms.
Whatever it is, it’s painful and in some cases, can cause us to worry that there’s something seriously wrong with our bodies.
While muscle pain is indeed a health concern, however, it doesn’t always indicate a grave issue. Sometimes, it can be due to something as minor as mild fatigue.
Here, I will discuss the different types of muscle pain that we experience so you have a better idea of what causes these pains. That way, you may make a more informed decision on whether or not your muscle pain is the type that requires professional medical care.
All About Muscle Pain
If you don’t know it yet, our muscles make up about 40% of our total body weight. There are actually over 600 muscles in our body with different functions.
Muscles do pump blood to our system while some move food through our intestines. There are also muscles used to move our limbs as well as to lift heavy objects.
Some muscles that move involuntarily and ones that move voluntarily.
The former includes muscles that work on their own, such as the heart and intestines. The latter includes muscles that you control, like your hand and arm muscles.
Now, these muscles may suffer pain as well. The most common causes of muscle pain are stress, tension, and overuse. Muscle pain from these causes is often localized, which means that pain from them only affects a few muscles.
On the other hand, there is also systemic muscle pain. This pain radiates all throughout the body. It is often the result of an infection, medication side effect, or an illness.
As mentioned above, we’re going to talk about muscle cramps, tremors, twitches, and spasms. These are usually localized and are often brought about by the most common causes of muscle pain.
Before we go into those specific types of muscle issues, let’s clarify this first: muscle pain typically happens when the muscle contracts.
That same contraction is the cause of tremors, cramps, twitches, or spasms.
When a muscle twitch happens, it involves a small muscle contraction in the body. Usually, the causes of muscle twitches are nerve stimulation or damage. They may also happen more often when you’re fatigued.
Don’t worry too much, though. In most cases, muscle twitches go unnoticed and are not a cause for concern.
However, there are also some cases when muscle twitches indicate an issue in your nervous system. Thus, this may require the attention of a doctor.
Muscle Twitching: What Causes It?
Here are the minor causes of muscle twitching:
- Too much caffeine,
- Nutrient deficiency,
- Adverse reactions to certain drugs, and
- Physical activity.
These minor causes of muscle pain can be easily resolved. Most of the time, they don’t require any medical attention.
However, if you suspect that the muscle twitches are caused by medications, it is best that you speak to your doctor. Your doctor may lower the dosage of your current prescription or replace it with another medication.
On the other hand, these are the serious causes of muscle twitches:
- Muscular dystrophies,
- Lou Gehrig’s disease,
- Spinal muscular atrophy, and
- Isaac’s syndrome.
These causes are often related to issues with the nervous system, specifically ones affecting the brain and spinal cord. The twitches occur due to nerve damage.
So how do you know if your twitching is due to minor causes or serious ailments? The easiest way is still to seek expert advice. If your twitching is a persistent issue and is starting to cause you serious muscle pain, in particular, it may be time to see a doctor.
But in cases of milder muscle twitches, there are ways to treat the problem on your own.
Muscle Twitching Treatments
As mentioned, muscle twitches generally subside on their own. In most cases, it will take a few days.
Obviously, trying to avoid any of the possible minor causes can help relieve this muscle pain.
For instance, if you think that your muscle twitches are caused by stress and anxiety, the way to treat them is to indulge in some relaxation.
However, if your muscle twitching is due to more serious causes then your doctor may prescribe you with medications such as muscle relaxants.
This muscle pain is also referred to as a muscle cramp, although cramps are typically longer. As with most other types of muscle pain, spasms happen due to involuntary muscle contraction.
The upside of this type of pain is that even though they occur suddenly, they also resolve quickly. However, the downside is that muscle spasms are often very painful.
Keep in mind that this type of muscle pain is different from muscle twitch. Muscle twitches are usually only described as uncomfortable or mildly stinging, at most.
Muscle spasms, on the other hand, are acutely painful.
So what causes muscle spasms and how can you avoid them?
Muscle Spasms: What Causes Them?
There are various causes of muscle spasms. Here are some of them:
- Overused, previously injured, tired, or strained muscle,
- Unfamiliar exercise activities,
- Chronic neck and back pain,
- Restless legs syndrome, and
Muscle spasms may also be due to underlying health conditions such as:
- Kidney disease,
- Thyroid, and
- Other hormone issues.
There are also more serious cases such as atherosclerosis.
Muscle Spasm Treatments
One of the easiest ways to treat and avoid muscle spasms is to keep the body hydrated. If you also do exercises, don’t skip on the warm-up!
If the muscle spasm is painful enough that it restricts proper movement, doctors may prescribe medications. Depending on the causes of your muscle spasms, other medications (such as iron supplements for anemics, for example) may be prescribed.
What is muscle tremor? This is the uncontrollable rhythmic movement of the muscle. It can occur in any part of the body.
Usually, muscle tremors are the result of a problem in a part of the brain. Keep in mind that this isn’t always so: they’re not always serious. But there are many cases when tremors indicate a serious disorder.
Types of Muscle Tremors
There are two types of tremors:
- Resting tremor – This happens when you’re just sitting or lying still. In this case, moving may make the tremor go away. This type of tremor often affects only the fingers and hands.
- Action tremor – This happens when the affected body part is in movement. It is divided into 5 subcategories: intention, postural, task-specific, kinetic, and isometric tremors.
Let’s talk a little more about action tremors by describing the 5 subcategories into which they fall:
- Intention – This happens during a targeted movement.
- Postural – This happens when you are in a position against gravity.
- Task-specific – This happens during a specific activity.
- Kinetic – This happens during the movement of a body part.
- Isometric – This happens during a voluntary muscle contraction.
Tremors are also classified by their appearance and cause. The essential tremor is the most common type and is often an action tremor of the postural or intention type.
There is also the Parkinsonian tremor, which is often a resting tremor and the first sign of Parkinson’s disease.
Dystonic tremor is a tremor that happens irregularly. People with dystonia experience this and it is characterized by involuntary muscle contractions.
The Cerebellar tremor is an intention tremor caused by lesions or damage to the cerebellum. The cerebellum is part of the brain that is responsible for our movement and balance.
The psychogenic tremor may show all of the tremor types. People with conversion disorder often experience this type of tremor.
Orthostatic tremor occurs in the legs and the physiological tremor is caused by reactions to medications, medical conditions, overactive thyroid gland, or alcohol withdrawal.
Muscle Tremors: What Causes Them?
The most common non-serious causes of tremors are the following:
- Muscle fatigue,
- Too much caffeine,
- Stress, and
- Low blood sugar levels.
But as I said earlier and just like the other muscle pains or conditions, muscle tremor may also have serious causes such as these:
- Traumatic brain injury,
- Parkinson’s disease,
- Multiple sclerosis, and
Muscle Tremor Treatments
Oral medications are the most common treatments for muscle pain due to tremors. However, there are also botox injections and physical therapy.
For those with serious tremors that affect the quality of their lives, brain stimulation surgery may even be considered.
Not all people with tremors are qualified for this, however. For example, someone whose tremors are due to alcohol abuse isn’t typically a candidate for this treatment.
This type of muscle pain is the sudden and involuntary contraction of the muscles. Most of the time, a muscle cramp is harmless to overall health in spite of being an agonizing experience.
In fact, most muscle cramps go away in less than a minute. The discomfort also goes away relatively quickly from this type of muscle pain.
Muscle Cramps: What Causes Them?
Here are the most common causes of muscle pain due to cramps:
- Muscle overuse,
- Muscle strain, and
- Holding a position for a prolonged period.
Muscle cramps may also be a result of an underlying medication condition such as these:
- Nerve compression,
- Mineral depletion, and
- Inadequate blood supply.
Muscle Cramp Treatments
Treating muscle cramps may be done at home. You can do simple stretches or get a massage.
You can also use and apply a hot or cold compress to the tight muscles. Some doctors may also recommend taking vitamin B complex supplements to prevent and treat muscle cramps.
Final Thoughts on Causes & Treatments for Muscle Pain
In this post, I talked about the different types of muscle pain such as cramps, tremors, twitches, and spasms.
Many types of muscle pain are caused by minor issues while others are caused by more serious underlying health conditions. In this article, we’ve covered both types of causes for these different variants of muscle pain. I also discussed with you the various treatments to help ease or prevent them.
If you’re suffering from muscle pain and have already tried the home remedies I gave above for the muscle contraction you’re experiencing, it may be time to see a doctor.
At AccuDoc, we offer examination services to those who want to be sure their muscle pain is from relatively benign causes. We can also help you find the ideal treatment to relieve your muscle pain, from prescriptions to physical therapy.
If you have any more questions about muscle pain and health, feel free to leave a comment below.