Unexplained Sore, Tender Or Aching Muscles

What Causes Tender Muscles?

Tender muscles can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'minor' to 'generally fatal'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose tender muscles, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "tender muscles" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Silicone Disease
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Vitamin D Need
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Fluorosis
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • West Nile Virus

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
regular sore throats
severe muscle weakness
regular unexplained nausea
edema of the eyelids
inability to tell hot from cold
living at 24°-40° latitude
being very easily irritated
heaviness of the legs
recent loss of appetite
severe emotional instability
major unexplained weight loss
regular episodes of diarrhea
... and more than 80 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of tender muscles:
Cause Probability Status
Dermatomyositis 97% Confirm
Epstein-Barr Virus 23% Unlikely
Vitamin D Need 13% Unlikely
Fluorosis 1% Ruled out
West Nile Virus 1% Ruled out
Silicone Disease 1% Ruled out
Guillain-Barre Syndrome 0% Ruled out
Multiple Chemical Sensitivity 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate having muscle problems / disease, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Do your muscles ache, or feel generally sore or tender to the touch for no obvious reason? Do not include sore muscles that are due to obvious causes such as flu or heavy exercise.
Possible responses:
→ No / there's an obvious reason / don't know
→ Minor muscle soreness/tenderness in the past only
→ Major muscle soreness/tenderness in the past only
→ Current minor muscle soreness/tenderness
→ Current major muscle soreness/tenderness
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate history of tender muscles, tender muscles or very tender muscles, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Lupus, SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)

Muscle pains are a common symptom of SLE.  Less common is actual muscle inflammation which occurs occasionally during the course of SLE.

Allergy to Foods (Hidden)

Muscle pain can be due to food allergies.  Such pains will disappear after elimination of the offending foods from the diet.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Gradually muscle pain is experienced in the large muscles, such as the thighs, back and shoulders.  Pain in the lower back, buttocks or thighs is common, and is often the earliest symptom.  Deep, aching muscle pain is common.


Flu-like illness and muscle aches are generally present in cases of malaria.

Vitamin C Requirement

To test the effects of vitamin C in preventing muscle soreness, researchers at Western States Chiropractic College gave 3gm of vitamin C to students beginning 3 days before exposing them to the stress of exercise.  The vitamin C group developed significantly less muscle soreness than did the control group. [Pain 1992;50: pp.317-21]

Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)

One third of patients with disseminated coccidioidomycosis have musculoskeletal involvement.

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