At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What Conditions can Cause Severe Muscle Pain?

Susan Grindstaff
Susan Grindstaff

Severe muscle pain can result from many different conditions, but is more often associated with muscle injury. Injuries to muscles and surrounding tissue usually lead to swelling, inflammation, and soreness. Fibromyalgia, arthritis, and infection are some common causes of severe muscle pain not related to injury.

Sometimes it is difficult to determine if sore muscles are the result of injury, because in many cases, the pain may not be immediately present. Sometimes strained or injured muscles do not begin to feel painful until a day or so after the injury was received. One way to help determine if pain is the result of muscle damage is to look for swelling or bruising in the area where the pain is occurring, as muscle injury is usually accompanied by both.


Fibromyalgia is a type of disorder that commonly causes pain at various points throughout the body, many of which involve muscles and surrounding tissue. The actual cause of the condition is unknown, but some research seems to indicate that people who suffer the condition may have abnormal pain responses. It is generally more common in women than in men, and though it is treatable, there is no known cure.

In some cases, people who suffer from undiagnosed arthritis may mistakenly believe they are experiencing muscle pain. Arthritis usually causes severe pain and inflammation in parts of the skeleton where bones connect to form joints. These joints are often located near muscle groups, which can lead to the incorrect assumption that the muscle area is the origin of the pain. Treatment for arthritis usually involves anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers.

Metabolic disease, another cause of severe muscle pain, is a type of genetic disorder. Metabolic disease can cause malfunctions in the process of metabolizing food into energy, particularly regarding muscle storage of glucose. The inability of the muscle to properly store energy can result in muscle pain and fatigue. Affected muscles may sometimes be unable to withstand even mild exercise without severe pain or cramping. Treatment for metabolic diseases can vary, but in some cases, changes in diet may diminish the symptoms.

People who experience severe muscle pain for more than seven to ten days should probably consult with their physician to determine what is causing the problem. Doctors can perform tests such as ultrasounds and X-rays to help identify the problem. In some instances, severe muscle pain could be the result of a serious infection and may require prescription medications such as antibiotics. Both bacterial and viral infections often cause muscle pain, fever, and other flu-like symptoms.

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Doctor