Joint pain vs muscle pain: How much do you know about the differences between the two? Read on to learn more about the differences between them.

Joint Pain vs Muscle Pain: What Are the Differences?

Did you know that Musculoskeletal problems affect 1.71 billion persons globally?

Those who suffer from chronic pain know all too well how it can impact your daily life and mood. There are various types of chronic pain, such as joint and muscle pain.

If you’re experiencing both types of pain, you may be confused. Is your pain stemming from different causes? 

Understanding joint and muscle pain differences may help you determine your next steps. In this article, we’ll review the common causes of joint pain vs muscle pain and how it differs depending on the type of pain.


Causes and Symptoms

Joint pain and muscle pain both vary in their causes and symptoms. Joint pain is most commonly caused by arthritis. Muscle pain is usually the result of physical strain or an injury.

It is important to discern between the two, as their treatments and outlooks differ. Joint pain can appear in the form of swelling, tenderness, or stiffness and typically affects multiple joints simultaneously.

Common symptoms of muscle pain include soreness, cramps, tension, weakness, and tightness. On the other hand, muscle pain is generally localized to one specific area. Several activities, such as over-exertion, poor posture, or dehydration, can cause it.

Understanding the Role of Inflammation

Understanding the role of inflammation in joint and muscle pain will help people identify and address the root cause of the discomfort they are experiencing.

Addressing inflammation is the key to reliving both joint and muscle pain. Understanding the causes of each is essential to treat the symptoms effectively.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for each type of pain depend heavily on the cause. For joint pain, recommended treatments may include pain medications and physical therapy.

For muscle pain, treatment may include rest and exercise, topical treatments, and massage. Each type of pain may also benefit from alternatives like hot and cold treatments, acupuncture, and yoga. It’s essential to accurately identify the source of the pain to select an appropriate and effective treatment option.

The Impact of Aging

Degenerative joint pain, or osteoarthritis, is a common condition among older adults and is the result of the progressive wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions a joint. As we age, our bone density naturally diminishes.

This can be partially the cause of joint pain and mobility issues. Taking proper care includes:

  • Exercise
  • Hydration
  • Diet

These can help prevent the pain and further damage caused by aging.

Diagnostic Tools

A physical examination is the most common diagnostic tool to differentiate joint pain from muscle pain. Physical examination helps to distinguish a joint from a muscle injury. Depending on the circumstances, further evaluation may include the following:

  • Laboratory tests
  • Radiographs
  • Arthrography
  • Computerized tomography

Additionally, physicians may turn to joint aspiration to observe the fluid that accumulates in the joint and analyze it for infection or other conditions. In some cases, joint pain can also be acutely alleviated with the application of heat and ice to reduce the inflammation causing the symptoms. To prevent it, find a joint pain doctor.

Understanding Joint Pain vs Muscle Pain

Joint and muscle pain can have an immense impact on your daily life. Knowing the differences between joint pain vs muscle pain and the related symptoms can help you take the necessary steps to manage it properly. If you are experiencing either, contact your doctor to determine the best course of treatment.

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