My muscles are sore and I haven’t been working out: Why?

The feeling of sore muscles after a good workout can tell you that you worked hard and are moving towards achieving your fitness goals, whatever they may be. Or if you go on a beautiful hike and your legs are sore the next day, it’s almost a pleasant feeling. You can stretch and rest a bit without giving it much thought. But what about when your muscles are sore, but you haven’t been working out? What could it be?

Although less common than muscle pain from exercise or exertion, your muscles can be sore for a number of other reasons. Muscle pain is called myalgia, and it can be a symptom of a serious infection or a chronic condition.

The flu
Influenza is a virus everyone was talking about this year. The H3N2 strain of flu that dominated this year was more widespread than other years, and made a lot of people very sick. One of the first symptoms people feel with the flu is muscle aches. Some people describe it as feeling as though they just ran a marathon. If your muscles are sore and achy and you’ve been around either a person with the flu or a crowded place, you may have the flu. Watch out for fever and cold symptoms. If you do have the flu, get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Ask your doctor about taking an anti-viral medication if you have only had symptoms for a day or so. 

Lyme disease
Body-aches, chills, and fever may not always be the flu. If you have these symptoms within about a month of being bitten by a tick, you could be infected with Lyme disease. A telltale rash with a bullseye pattern may appear around the spot where you were bitten. If you see the rash, get to the doctor right away. Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics but it is not always easy to diagnose. If you do not receive treatment in the early stages of the disease, you could develop severe symptoms like joint pain similar to rheumatoid arthritis, meningitis, muscle weakness, or other serious complications.

A chronic condition that is linked with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia is pain in the muscles, joints, and/or other soft tissue in the body. Not everyone notices sore muscles right away, but you may be aware of a feeling of sustained tiredness and general lack of energy. Fibromyalgia can also cause depression, anxiety, and make it hard to sleep. Although there is no cure, people with fibromyalgia may decrease the severity of symptoms with exercises and medications prescribed by doctors.

Mononucleosis or “mono”
A contagious infection that used to be attributed only to kissing, mononucleosis can pack a punch. The symptoms may resemble the flu at first, including muscle aches and fever. But mono can also cause a rash and sore throat. If you think you may have mono, be sure to get a definitive diagnosis from your doctor and stay home for as long as symptoms last to avoid passing it to others.

These conditions are just a few that can cause sore muscles. As always, be sure to listen to your body and see your doctor if you are showing signs of an infection or other condition. The caring providers at SC Internal Medicine Associates & Rehabilitation in South Carolina can help. Call (803) 749-1111 for an appointment at our office in Irmo, South Carolina today.