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Muscle inflammation is a condition characterized by swelling, stiffness, non-specific pain, and muscle soreness or weakness. Without undergoing testing to diagnose the specific cause of inflammation, it can be difficult to know how to proceed to effectively reduce inflammation and relieve muscle pain. For that matter, there are various causes of this condition that should be ruled out if symptoms are severe and of unknown origin. For instance, chronic muscle inflammation may be due to multiple sclerosis or lupus. Therefore, a consultation with a rheumatologist for imaging and blood tests may be in order if any of these disorders are suspected.
In the absence of an autoimmune disease, most cases of simple muscle inflammation can be attributed to overexertion while exercising or participating in recreational sports. This is when the desired muscle burn provided by such activity becomes overshadowed by muscle aches. Unfortunately, many people tend to reach for an ice pack to remedy this situation. However, applying heat is actually the appropriate thing to do since it increases blood circulation. An electric heating pad or a gel pack that can be warmed up in the microwave is ideal for this purpose.
Muscle inflammation and pain may also be addressed with non-steroidal pain relievers, or NSAIDS. These medications are available without a prescription and include aspirin and ibuprofen. However, a physician can prescribe stronger versions of these drugs if necessary, such as naproxen. If symptoms are chronic or severe, treatment with ultrasound, massage therapy, or physical rehabilitation exercises may be helpful.
There are a number of complementary therapies that may help to ease muscle inflammation as well. For instance, homeopathic dosages of arnica often bring relief. The topical application of certain essential oils diluted with a carrier oil may also help. These include birch and wintergreen, both of which possess anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. In fact, the latter is used in many over-the-counter ointments formulated specifically for muscle aches. In addition, taking fish oil supplements may help due to the anti-inflammatory action of omega-3 fatty acids.
While recovering, it may be advisable to steer away from consuming too many animal products, which contain high levels of pro-inflammatory fats. These fats promote the excessive production of leukotrienes, which causes the immune system to go into overdrive. The end result is more inflammation.
Finally, getting enough sleep can help to minimize both inflammation and pain. This may be difficult when swelling, pain, or even involuntary muscle spasms tend to interrupt sleep. However, research in this area suggests that there is a connection between the body’s ability to repair itself and sufficient periods of rest. If a solid eight hours at night proves to be impossible, a few well-timed daytime naps may help to make up for the loss of nighttime sleep.