What causes Muscular pain?


Sprains occur when the ligaments or capsule of a joint is damaged.
Strains occur when the muscle itself is torn or damaged.
Stiff and painful muscles may occur simply as a result of strenuous and unaccustomed work such as gardening, decorating or exercise.
Painful joints may be the result of arthritis and the pain may be associated with swelling, overlying inflammation, stiffness limitation of movement and deformity of the joint.


Elderly people are more likely to have a fracture (especially elderly women, who may suffer from osteoporosis, a brittling of the bone) so it is advisable that they have the injury looked at by their local pharmacist or GP. You should always give the history of the injury to the pharmacist in order to exclude a fracture or more serious problems. If you have already tried treating the pain without success you should inform the pharmacist of the type of treatment tried, this may help the pharmacist to determine the type of injury.


If you are taking any prescription medication or suffering from any other ailment, as always, ask to speak to the pharmacist.


Treatment of Muscular Pain


For the relief of muscular sprains and strains in the limbs, we strongly recommend the use of an anti-inflammatory gel and anti-inflammatory painkillers. They kill the pain of muscular problems quickly and effectively, but used regularly for a few weeks, they also exert an anti-inflammatory effect that reduces inflammation and swelling and will quickly help the muscle to recover.


Anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. Nurofen) are usually safe to use in the short term (about two weeks). Longer term use of anti-inflammatory tablets needs to be under a doctor’s supervision as there may be side effects such as stomach ulcers from long term use of these drugs. Also, asthmatics, people with stomach ulcers, diabetics and people with kidney damage should check with their doctor before starting on these drugs.


The range of anti-inflammatory gels available over the counter has increased in the past number of years as a number of them have come off prescription. Nurofen Gel and Voltarol P Emugel are examples of these.


DEEP HEAT cream may be a useful alternative and acts to warm the skin. Circulation can also be helped by gentle massage on the affected part up to four times daily. The convenient, easy to use DEEP HEAT spray is also very useful in the short-term relief of muscular pain.



Heat application is one of the most effective non-drug ways of reducing muscular pain. Try a Cosy Cushion or the 3M COLD/HOT PACK. Such a pack can be used hot or cold to deaden the sensation of pain. The wearing of warm clothing will also help. Any injury to a joint should always be well supported either with strapping or support dressings. If the injury is recent (under 24 hours) the pack should be frozen to cool the area down and prevent swelling. If the injury is older, the pack should be warmed up to increase blood flow and promote healing.


Practical Points:


  • Massaging of gels or creams can work wonders for an injured part, (if it is sufficiently gentle), as it acts to improve circulation. Massage should be circular, heavier when approaching the heart, lighter when moving the hand away from the heart. (Circulation).
  • Keep anti-inflammatory gel well away from the eyes and other mucosal surfaces.
  • With sprains and strains a simple way to remember what to do is think of the word – RICE, each letter represents an action which should be taken to relieve the condition; Rest – Ice – Compression (support bandaging) – Elevation (Raise the limb).
  • Due to regulatory guidelines, not all painkillers will be on display in the pharmacy. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you on the most effective pain relief for your symptoms.