Difference between Bone Pain and Muscle Pain (2023)

Difference between Bone Pain and Muscle Pain (1)

Hexahealth Care Team Monday, 07 November 2022

Difference between Bone Pain and Muscle Pain (2)Pain is the body's way of telling that something is wrong. It is the body's protective mechanism, making the patient cautious before developing any severe disease or complications. Hence it's crucial to listen to what your body is trying to tell you.

While pain can arise from any part of the body, the difference between bone and muscle pain is essential. This is because it may be hard to notice the difference between bone pain and muscle pain, as they are present throughout the body. Muscles are attached to the bones and help them move by contracting and relaxing.

    Table of Contents

    1. What is Bone Pain?
    2. What is Muscle Pain?
    3. What is the Difference between Bone Pain and Muscle Pain?
    4. Takeaway
    5. Frequently Asked Questions
    6. Related Expert Doctors
    7. Related Hospitals

    What is Bone Pain?

    Bone pain refers to tenderness (pain on touching) or discomfort in one or more body bones. It also includes joint pain. Bone pain is often debilitating and present deeper in the body. Bone pain is sharp, so the patient can easily localise or pinpoint it.
    Bone pain occurs due to underlying bone disease and should be taken seriously. Bone pain could be a sign of several diseases. Bone pain causes include:

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    1. Osteoporosis
      Osteoporosis is a condition where bone density is reduced. The reduced bone density makes the bones brittle and more prone to fractures. In patients with osteoporosis, even a mild fall may result in a fracture.
    2. Osteoarthritis
      Osteoarthritis refers to the inflammation of joints. It's a painful condition wherein the joint cartilage undergoes wear and tear and slowly degenerates, causing pain and stiffness.
    3. Bone infection
      Bone infection, commonly referred to as osteomyelitis, can cause bone pain. It can occur in any age group but is commonly seen in children.
    4. Injury
      Bone injuries can occur due to trauma, accidents or while playing sports, resulting in bone pain. Bone pain may also occur in case of stress fractures. A stress fracture is a small crack in the bone that's often seen in athletes as they overuse their bodies physically.
    5. Pregnancy
      During pregnancy, the ligaments that hold the pelvic bones together become more flexible due to the effects of hormones. This flexibility is essential for delivery. However, during this process, the bones become more mobile and may cause discomfort in the pelvic girdle, which causes pain in the pelvic bone.
    6. Bone Cancer
      Bone cancers cause dull pain in the bones. These cancers could be of the bone tissue (osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma etc.) or the bone marrow (Hodgkin's lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma). Some cancers can also spread from other body parts to the bone.
    7. Sickle Cell Disease
      The bone marrow produces red blood cells in the body. In sickle cell disease, the shape of the red blood cells is altered, leading to a lack of oxygen delivery in all the organs and tissues, including bone. This lack of oxygen to the bone tissue can cause bone pain.

    What is Muscle Pain?

    Muscle pain, also known as myalgias, refers to muscle sprain and spasm in one or more body muscles. Muscle pain is perceived differently in each individual. Some may feel soreness, while others may feel random sharp pain. It may be localised or diffusely present throughout the body.
    Muscle pain can be short-term or chronic. It is short-term, like post-workout soreness. On the other hand, severe autoimmune or neurological conditions can be chronic. Some common muscle pain causes are as follows:

    1. Autoimmune diseases
      Autoimmune diseases causing muscle pain include Lupus, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory myopathies. In these diseases, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's muscle cells, thus damaging them.
    2. Infections
      Many bacterial and viral infections can cause muscle pain. These can be viral colds or the flu. It could also be seen in malaria, Lyme disease, etc.
    3. Injury
      Muscle sprain and injury are commonly seen in those who do heavy exercises and work out. The pain from injury originates from specific muscles and starts during or immediately after the activity, thus, helping to identify the trigger.
    4. Neuromuscular disorders
      Neuromuscular disorders like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, and muscular dystrophy are commonly associated with muscle pain and weakness.
    5. Medications
      Some medications may cause inflammation of the muscle cells and trigger pain. These medicines include chemotherapy medications, medications for high blood pressure, etc.
    6. Other causes
      Other muscle pain causes include cancers such as sarcomas and leukaemia, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.

    What is the Difference between Bone Pain and Muscle Pain?

    The most crucial difference between bone pain and muscle pain is that bone pain is easy to locate or pinpoint, whereas muscle pain isn't. Muscle pain is more generalised and hard to identify.

    Another difference between bone pain and muscle pain is that bone pain is deep and sharp and lasts longer. Muscle pain is short-lived and subsides within a day or two. It doesn't mean that muscle pain cannot be chronic. Chronic muscle pain can be seen in conditions like chronic myofascial pain. However, it's less common. Hence it's best to get one's symptoms checked by a qualified healthcare professional.

    Bone pain can be due to cancerous conditions like sarcomas and lymphomas. Muscle pain causes are not that serious. One should take bone pain seriously. Knowing the various symptoms and causes is necessary to notice the difference between bone pain and muscle pain. Below is a comparison table that will help one identify bone and muscle pain

    Differences Basedon Causes

    Type of PainBone PainMuscle Pain
    Causes
    1. Osteoporosis
    2. Injury
    3. Pregnancy
    4. Bone cancer
    5. Bone Infection
    1. Autoimmune diseases like Lupus and multiple sclerosis
    2. Injury
    3. Neuromuscular disorders like Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
    4. Medications like chemotherapeutic drugs (anti-cancer drugs)
    5. Infections

    Differences Basedon Symptoms

    Type of PainBone PainMuscle Pain
    Symptoms
    1. Back pain
    2. Abnormal posture (stooped)
    3. A gradual decrease in height
    4. Pain
    5. Swelling
    6. Tissue damage or apparent breaks and deformities
    7. Pain in the pubic bone
    8. stiff and painful pelvic joints
    9. Increased tendency of bone fracture
    10. Lump or mass
    11. Tingling or numbness sensations
    12. Redness
    13. Swelling
    14. A rise in the temperature at the site of infection
    15. Inability to move
    16. Nausea
    17. Fever
    18. Loss of appetite
    1. Myalgia (muscle pain)
    2. Muscle weakness
    3. Muscle spasms
    4. Fever
    5. Fatigue
    6. Shortness of breath
    7. Headache
    8. Sore muscles
    9. Strained muscles
    10. Muscle weakness
    11. Muscle pain
    12. Paralysis
    13. Shortness of breath
    14. Repeated chest infections
    15. Myalgia
    16. Fatigue
    17. Nausea
    18. Vomiting
    19. Anaemia
    20. Constipation
    21. Diarrhoea
    22. Weight loss
    23. Pain all over the body
    24. Fever
    25. Nausea
    26. Swollen lymph nodes

    The difference between bone pain and muscle pain lies in their onset, pattern, aggravating and relieving factors, duration of pain and its progression. These factors are asked and covered by the doctor while taking a history from the patient.These history-taking points differentiate bone and muscle pain. These pointers help the doctor to diagnose the cause of pain properly. Once the diagnosis is made, the doctor selects the patient's right bone and muscle pain medicine.

    Prescription of bone and muscle pain medicine varies from disease to disease. The doctor prescribes the bone and muscle pain medicine according to the diagnosis and bone and muscle pain causes.

    Differences Based on Diagnosis

    Type of PainBone PainMuscle Pain
    Diagnosis
    1. X-rays help diagnose conditions giving rise to bone pain
    2. MRIs and CT scans to visualise the injuries, lesions or tumours of the bone
    3. Urine analysis can be done to detect bone marrow disorders.
    1. Blood tests to check electrolyte levels and infections
    2. X-rays to rule out other associated conditions
    3. MRI or CT scans to detect any muscle injury
    4. Urine analysis helps diagnose myoglobin levels
    5. Electromyography (it measures the electrical activity in nerves and muscles)
    6. Muscle biopsy or spinal fluid test to check for neuromuscular disorders
    7. Neurological examination and nerve conduction studies to detect neuromuscular disorders.

    Differences BasedonTreatment

    Type of PainBone PainMuscle Pain
    Treatment
    1. More potent painkillers can be prescribed in case of moderate to severe pain.
    2. Massage or acupuncture are not helpful
    3. Calcium and Vitamin D supplements for those with osteoporosis
    4. Surgery to remove deformed bone tissue
    1. Pain relief from ice packs and heat packs, over-the-counter painkillers are effective
    2. Antibiotics for viral or bacterial infections causing muscle pain
    3. Massage or acupuncture
    4. Calcium and vitamin D supplements are not helpful in muscle pain
    5. Surgery is not prescribed for conditions causing muscle pain
    6. Symptomatic management for other symptoms like physical therapy, medications to relieve extra saliva and other associated symptoms

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    Takeaway

    Bone versus muscle pain can be hard to differentiate. To summarise, some key points to remember while differentiating between bone and muscle pain are:

    1. Bone pain feels sharper, deeper, and more disabling than muscle pain. It lasts for a longer duration compared to muscle pain.Bone pain arises due to a serious pathology which should be corrected on time.
    2. Muscle pain is more common than bone pain. One may experience muscle pain after an intense workout or post-viral infection. Muscle pain is more generalised and resolves quickly within a day or two.

    With this article, we hope you understand the difference between bone pain and muscle pain. We also hope you can correctly identify the causes of bone and muscle pain.

    Feel free to contact us if you are still confused or have consistent muscle or bone pain. At HexaHealth, we ensure that your conditions are diagnosed and treated promptly. We're the largest network of hospitals and doctors in the country, and we're just one tap away! So get in touch with us right now!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What does pain in the bone feel like?

    Bone pain feels like a sharp, deep, localised pain. It persists for a longer period and can be accompanied by swelling, redness or other symptoms.

    What is the most common cause of bone pain?

    The most common cause of bone pain is osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones become brittle and more prone to fracture. Other causes include infections, cancer, trauma and sickle cell disease.

    How do I know if the pain is muscular?

    Muscular pain is a diffuse, generalised, steady dull aching pain. It is hard to localise and is often described as muscle soreness or cramps. Sometimes you may also feel sharp, sudden, stabbing pain.

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    How do I know if back pain is muscular or skeletal?

    Back pain due to muscle abnormalities is generalised and short-lived, whereas skeletal involvement can be sharp, deep and easy to localise. Skeletal pain lasts longer than muscular pain.

    What disease causes your bones to hurt?

    Diseases like osteoporosis, bone infections, bone cancer, injuries, and sickle cell anaemia can cause your bones to hurt. These diseases may also present other associated symptoms that shouldn't be ignored.

    When should I be concerned about bone pain?

    Any bone pain should be taken seriously. This is because bone pain occurs due to an underlying pathology that needs to be corrected before worsening the situation.

    How do you relieve bone pain?

    Bone pain can be temporarily relieved by pain relief medications such as ibuprofen, paracetamol or acetaminophen. Permanent muscle pain relief can only be provided after a detailed evaluation of the cause and diagnosis of the condition.

    How do I know if my pain is muscular or nerve?

    The most important difference between muscle and nerve pain is that muscle pain is short-lived, while nerve pain is chronic. Another critical difference is that nerve pain causes tingling (pins and needles sensation) and numbness in the arms and legs. Whereas muscle pain is tender and stiffening.

    Does stress cause bone pain?

    Yes, stress can cause bone pain. When your body is under stress, it releases inflammatory mediators that can cause inflammation resulting in pain.

    Why do my muscles and bones hurt?

    Your muscles and bones probably hurt due to an underlying disease. Muscle pain can be caused due to conditions like autoimmune diseases, neuromuscular disorders, and injuries, whereas bone pain occurs due to diseases like osteoporosis, fractures, infections, bone cancers, etc.

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    How long does muscular pain last?

    Muscular pain due to injuries or infections resolves within a few days. However, muscle pain due to chronic neuromuscular disorders like myasthenia gravis may last for a long time and can be managed by medications only.

    How do you relieve deep muscle pain?

    Deep muscle pain can be temporarily relieved by pain relief medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Permanent muscle pain relief can only be provided after a detailed evaluation of the cause and diagnosis.

    Can bone feel pain?

    Yes, bones can feel pain due to the rich nerve supply in the periosteal (superficial) later of the bone. This area of the bone is highly pain sensitive.

    What causes sharp pain in your bones?

    Sharp bone pain causes include conditions like osteoporosis, injuries, bone cancer, bone infections or pregnancy.

    What is the difference between nerve pain and bone pain?

    Nerve pain refers to tingling or numbing sensations over arms, hands, legs or feet. In contrast, bone pain is a sharp, deep, localised pain that can occur anywhere in the body.

    Why is bone pain worse at night?

    Bone pain worsens at night due to the drop in cortisol levels, a stress hormone. Cortisol has anti-inflammatory properties, which means that it reduces inflammation and pain when present at optimum levels in the blood. At night, cortisol levels drop, worsening bone pain.

    What does muscular pain feel like?

    Muscular pain feels like a diffuse, generalised, steady dull aching pain which is hard to localise. It is often described as muscle soreness or cramps. Sometimes you may also feel sharp, sudden, stabbing pain.

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    4. Pain All Over body : Fibromyalgia English
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    6. Dr. Anand Chavan on Bone & Muscle Health
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