How to Tell the Difference Between Muscle Pain and Nerve Pain

Muscle pain and nerve pain might feel similar, and many people often mix up the two. However, when you look at them more closely, there are subtle differences between muscle and nerve pain. No matter the source, persistent pain can be burdensome and prevent us from enjoying everyday activities.

If you are uncertain about the cause of your pain, complete our free Pain Assessment Tool. You can then discover treatment options through our Treatment Finder. If your discomfort is persistent or worsens, contact the skilled back doctors at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery.

What is Muscle Pain?

Almost everyone experiences muscle aches or pains at some point. It can involve a small area or your whole body, ranging from minor to severe. Most aches and pains will go away on their own in time, but some can linger for months. You can experience pain anywhere in your body, including the neck, back, legs, or hands. The most common causes of muscle pain are tension, stress, overuse of muscles, or personal injuries. This type of pain is typically localized in a specific area.

Conversely, you might be experiencing systemic muscle pain, which is pain throughout the entire body. However, this is generally a side effect of an infection or medication. Some illnesses that might cause muscle pain include:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • COVID-19
  • Influenza
  • Lyme Disease

Regardless of the source of your muscle pain, you might feel a tender, throbbing, or stiff sensation in the affected area.

What is Nerve Pain?

Nerve pain occurs when a health condition affects the nerves that carry sensations to the brain. When you experience nerve pain, you may feel a shooting, stabbing, or burning sensation. Some patients even report they feel an electric-shock pain. Nerve pain is typically chronic, lasting longer than six months.

Causes of Nerve Pain

Nerve pain can form due to problems in the nervous system, which include the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Common causes can include:

  • Injury to the brain, spine, or nerves
  • Insufficient blood supply to nerves
  • Excessive drinking
  • Certain medications

Like muscle pain, certain conditions may also cause nerve pain, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and even cancer.

When Should I See a Doctor about Muscle or Nerve Pain?

If you are experiencing pain for more than a few weeks, you should seek medical attention. Additionally, if your pain does not improve or worsens, schedule an appointment. Below are just a few signs to indicate when you should schedule an appointment with a doctor regarding your muscle or nerve pain.

  • Fever
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lack of control over bowel or bladder movements
  • Nighttime pain
  • Weakness in your arms or legs

If you have a family history of severe medical conditions, such as cancer or diabetes, you should contact your doctor at the onset of your pain. Similarly, if you are experiencing pain as a result of an injury, seek medical attention right away.

Relieve Muscle or Nerve Pain at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery

When you need to relieve muscle or nerve pain, turn to the board-certified doctors at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery. Our doctors utilize the latest technology to treat and diagnose several medical conditions. When you first partner with us, one of our team members will work with you one-on-one to get to the root of your pain. We will then develop a treatment plan specific to your condition. Call (855) 853-6542 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment today.