My muscles feel sore, weak and tired. Should I see a doctor?
When should you see a doctor for muscle aches and fatigue? Definitely see a doctor if you have sudden-onset weakness, fatigue or pain and can’t identify the reason.
Everyone feels muscle pain, weakness and fatigue from time to time. But at what point should you see your doctor about it?
Ambrosia Scott, DPT, LAT, CCI, says patients should see a doctor if they’re concerned about muscle weakness and pain.
Ambrosia Scott, DPT, LAT, CCI is the outpatient rehabilitation manager for Regional One Health. She can help patients answer that question and provide insight on what can cause these common concerns.
Better yet, Scott can help patients get better through physical therapy.
“If you have muscle pain or weakness, once you have an accurate diagnosis, therapy can help you gain strength and flexibility,” Scott said.
Regional One Health’s Center for Rehabilitative Medicine at the East Campus offers a full range of therapy services.
Patients can also transition to a Post-Rehab Wellness Program to protect the gains they achieve. Here’s what you need to know:
When should I seek help?
Scott recommends seeing a doctor if you have sudden-onset weakness, fatigue or pain and can’t identify the reason. “You really need to consult with a physician if you’re doing fine one minute and then all of a sudden you’re not,” she said.
She described that as “insidious onset.” That means you start feeling unwell even though you didn’t perform any physical activity that might have made you sore or tired.
If you have temporary muscle soreness due to exercise, that’s normal. But pain with no evident cause or that lingers more than two weeks should be checked by a physician.
Even if you can identify a cause, you still might need to see a doctor if you aren’t getting better.
“If you have muscle weakness or fatigue that persists for more than two weeks, it can be something else going on in your system,” Scott said.
Another red flag is if healthy changes don’t bring relief.
What will my doctor look for?
Scott said a number of conditions can be to blame:
An injury to the muscle, joint or bone
High blood pressure
Scott said problems can also arise from your lifestyle, like being too sedentary. “
You’ll have some muscles that become weak because they aren’t being tasked like they should be,” she explained. “It isn’t enough just to walk – you need to isolate other muscles to strengthen them.”
Unhealthy work environments – or just sitting at a desk too long – can cause muscle pain and weakness.
Ironically, “Muscles tend to be a lazy part of the body. If we don’t work them, they atrophy.”
Unhealthy work environments can also be to blame. Scott said people who sit at a desk all day or do repetitive motions are at risk.
“Our bodies aren’t designed to accommodate that,” she said.
How can therapy help?
Therapy can help patients overcome or alleviate those conditions.
Scott said therapists evaluate the areas where patients feel weakness or pain.
They use various techniques to make improvements:
Therapeutic exercises to improve flexibility and strength in affected areas
Education on proper posture
Non-pharmaceutical pain relief like soft tissue therapy and dry needling
Certified personal trainer Kenneth Robinson helps patients sustain gains they make in therapy with the Post-Rehab Wellness Program.
Patients who complete therapy at the Center for Rehabilitative Medicine can transition to its Post-Rehab Wellness Program.
The innovative program combines therapy and personal training.
Kenneth Robinson, certified personal trainer, teaches the right way to exercise so patients can continue to get stronger without the risk of re-injury.
“The minute you stop doing things to get stronger, you go back to being weaker,” Scott warned.
“Once you’re able to do something, you want to maintain it.”