Understand the difference between muscle aches and arthritis

15 February 2023

People often complain about aches in parts of their body, or have complaints related to their physical condition.

Now, even young people are calling themselves ‘remaja jompo’ [ancient teens] that represent youngsters who have complaints about aches and soreness in their body. Most aches are related to muscle aches and joint aches (arthritis). But are they actually the same or different?

Let’s find out.

Muscle aches

The medical term used to call muscle aches is myalgia which comes from the Greek words myo which means muscle and algos which means pain/aches. Hence, myalgia means aches or pain on muscles, or sometimes called muscle soreness. As the muscles cover our entire body, muscle aches can be felt anywhere. Myalgia is one of the most experienced discomforts that people are experiencing though different people may experience it on different parts of their bodies, depending on their activities and what may cause such aches. Though usually mild and only affects a certain part of our body, myalgia may sometimes be felt on the entire body and may be debilitating. Muscle aches in itself are not a disease, but they are symptoms of a disease or condition. The cause of muscle aches is varied starting from bad posture, bad form while exercising, muscle injury, infection, to drug adverse effect as reactions do drugs. Muscle aches can be felt at any part of the body, with some areas more often than others such as on the back, neck, arm, thigh, or calf.


Arthritis is the medical term for the inflammation of the joint. It comes from the Greek words arthro which means joint and itis which means inflammation. Hence, arthritis or joint inflammation is inflammation in one or more joints.

Causes of arthritis are varied, but some of the most commons are:

1.   Gout Arthritis, one of metabolic diseases. It is caused by increased uric acid in blood.

2.   Osteoarthritis, which is commonly known as calcification. It is a degenerative arthritis that may be caused by increased aged where the joint lubricant is diminished or may be caused by trauma.

3.   Rheumatoid arthritis, which is commonly called rheumatism. It is a type of arthritis caused by an abnormality in the immune system. It may also be called autoimmune arthritis, where our immune system is faulty in mapping the body’s defense.

4.   Psoriatic Arthritis, which is a joint inflammation that affects a person with psoriasis.

5.   Ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammation that affects the muscle bone and backbone (spinal) ligament. This condition may cause consolidation of spinal joints. Apart from that, the condition may also affect other parts of the body such as the eyes.

To reduce arthritis, you need to know your movement limit by resting your joints when you are having pain/inflammation and use topical analgesic on the affected area. You may use topical counterirritant which works with masking the pain. Example of such medication are topical salycilate, topical menthol, topical eugenol, or NSAID (Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drug). These topical medications work as both anti-inflammation and pain-reliever: topical piroxicam and topical diclofenac. For oral medications, you may try to take paracetamol in the dosage of 15mg per kg of body weight. You may also take oral NSAID.




You might like this