What's the Difference Between Joint Pain and Muscle Pain?

Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional feeling which accompanies us from an early age. It is a protective reaction from the body that responds to harmful stimuli. Its intensity can be different, like Acute pain, Chronic pain, and Survived pain. But being attentive and proactive is important to decrease the severity of the pain and prevent further damage.

However, differentiating the pain can be challenging, especially Joint Pain and Muscle Pain, since it originates in the same parts of the body.

In this article, we will discuss the causes for Joint Pain and Muscle Pain, and their differences.

Muscle pain

Muscle pain, medically known as myalgia, can be described as pain that originates in any muscle of the body (one targeted area or across many muscles).

Classification of muscle pain

Acute pain: It arises after any tissue damage. The pain can be located and resolved upon healing. It has a protective nature as it warns individuals about harmful situations.

Chronic pain: Chronic pain usually persists from months to years. The intensity of the pain here is not related to the stimuli; some damaging changes occur in the nerve function. The pain loses its protective and warning signs and thus serves no purpose.

Causes of Muscle Pain

Muscle pain is caused due to many reasons. This pain is usually limited to a particular muscle or a small body part. But in some cases, it can be felt in the whole body.

Following are the medical conditions that cause muscle pain:

  • Infections – Bacterial and Viral infections can cause muscle pain. Bacterial infections like Tuberculosis, Lyme disease, Streptococcal infections, etc., and viral infections like influenza (flu), common cold, dengue fever, chikungunya fever, etc. Pain is felt throughout your body.
  • Autoimmune conditions – In some diseases, your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs, called autoimmune diseases. e.g. lupus. The immune system causes inflammation leading to muscle damage and hence pain.
  • Muscle strain – When an individual repeatedly uses particular muscles or over-engaging in physical activities such as running, jumping, etc., it causes muscle strain leading to pain. The severity of this pain can be mild to severe and need treatment accordingly.
  • Hypo-thyrodism – Underactive thyroid secrets low thyroid hormone, which is called hypothyroidism. This condition can lead to discomfort and pain in one or more muscles in the body.
  • Side effects of certain medications (i.e. the Statins) – Side effects can include inflammation of the muscle cells, hence muscle pain.

Joint Pain

Joint pain occurs in the parts of your body where your bones meet, which is common, especially as you age. Joint damage from disease or injury can affect your movement of that particular region and cause a lot of pain.

Causes of Joint Pain

  • Sprain or strain – Repetitive or intense exercise causes pain in the joints which are used

Sprains – Torn or twisted ligament

Strains – Torn of overstretched muscle

  • Osteoarthritis – This type of pain occurs especially in people over the age of 45. Here pain gets worse when walking and shows stiffness after moving.
  • Bursitis – Bursitis occurs when the fluid-filled sacs (bursa) that cushion your joints become inflamed and that can cause serious joint pain.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – Autoimmune disorder happens when your body attacks its own tissues. It affects the lining of your joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity.
  • Gout – Hot, swollen toe with very bad pain that comes on suddenly due to raise in uric acid levels
  • Joint infection (septic arthritis) – Hot, swollen joint and a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery is also a cause of joint pain.

Difference between Joint pain and Muscle Pain


Muscle Pain

Joint Pain


Sometimes difficult to located, especially in chronic condition

Damages particular joints hence can be located easily around joint

Description of Pain

Dull and aching

Deep and sharp

Duration of the pain


Lasts longer


Less serious causes

Often caused due to serious conditions


Rest, home remedies (Ice massage), Over the counter drugs, physiotherapy treatments

Medication, Surgery, or Radiation therapy depending upon the cause of the pain , physiotherapy treatments

If you are suffering from pain, and not sure about the causes for joint and muscle pain, visit Enliven Ortho & Spinal Wellness Centre.  Our team of specialists will guide you with a more informed approach to managing pain.

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