Muscle pain, joint pain and nerve pain — What’s the difference?

Most people view pain as plain old pain. It hurts. It is annoying. We try to run away from it. The truth is that there are several kinds of pain, each one stemming from a different source. Understanding these different types of pain can help you understand where your problem is coming from.

Muscle pain is the achy, sore pain that increases with movement or with pressure on the affected muscle. Stretching can create increased pain, but it often feels better afterwards. Walking or exercising can also ease muscle pain, but doing too much can actually increase it and make it feel sharp. Muscle pain is caused by tight, overworked muscles and muscle knots.

Joint pain is also achy, but feels like it is deeper than muscle pain. Many times joint pain hurts as much or even more when we are still, such as sitting at a computer or laying down at night. Instead of being focused over a large, muscular area, it is often focused around a particular bony joint. Joint pain is caused by fracture, degeneration or arthritis.

Nerve pain is sharp, electric, traveling pain that zaps down your arm or leg. It is caused by compression of the nerve coming out of the spine or in the arms/legs. Sometimes it is accompanied by numbness, tingling or weakness due to nerve damage. Most over the counter NSAIDs do not work very well on nerve pain and nothing seems to get rid of it. Sometimes changing positions or streatching can take some of the pressure off, but this type of pain takes a long time to get better.

No matter which type of pain you have, it is important to see you chiropractic physician quickly after the onset of the symptoms to get quick resolution. The longer you have pain, the more damage is done to the area and the more work it will take to get you better!