When do muscle pain and cramps indicate a serious underlying muscle or systemic disorder? The tips in this article will aid in appropriate diagnosis and investigation.
- Generally, only when the muscle cramps or pain are diffuse, frequent or persistent is a thorough clinical evaluation needed to establish whether the cause is benign or a specific identifiable disorder.
- The distribution of the pain and its relationship to exercise can aid diagnosis.
- Pain that is restricted to one limb or to a region is likely to have a local cause or be locally referred.
- Persistent ‘whole body pain’ from ‘head to foot’ is usually psychogenic.
- Ask about medications being take by the patient, and whether there is any family history of muscle pain or other neuromuscular disorder.
- Look for any associated symptoms to suggest a systemic or endocrine disturbance.
- Define and treat the specific cause when possible.