Remedies for Sore Muscles & Joints

by Catherine Schaffer

About Catherine Schaffer

Catherine Schaffer has been writing since 1990. Her articles have appeared in many medical journals and textbooks. Schaffer holds a Bachelor of Science from Baylor College of Medicine and a physician assistant certificate. She has written health and nutrition articles for various websites and teaches movement and nutrition to help women overcome chronic diseases and obesity.



Sore muscles and joints are common. Arthritis can affect the joints, leaving them sore and inflamed. Sports injuries occur and can leave muscles feeling strained and overworked. A sprain occurs when a ligament that connects two bones together is stretched or torn, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. When a muscle is injured it is called a strain. There are multiple ways to treat sore joints and muscles.

Ice and NSAIDs

When an injury first occurs, there is an acute onset of inflammation and swelling. Icing the sore muscle or joint for 20 minutes every hour can help reduce the swelling. Elevation of the extremity will mobilize fluid back towards the kidneys for removal. Resting the extremity is usually recommended and occasionally the affected area is wrapped with a compression dressing. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or cox-2 inhibitors can help. Ibuprofen such as Motrin or cox-2 inhibitors such as Celebrex, can help reduce pain and the inflammatory response. The Arthritis Foundation recommends the use of Tylenol or acetaminophen. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, severe sprains may require casting. Usually 24 to 48 hours of ice and anti-inflammatories are effective.

Physical Therapy

The next stage of treatment involves exercise therapy. It is important to prevent muscle stiffness and slowly improve the range of motion of the muscle or joint involved. A health care provider will prescribe an exercise program for post-injury or arthritic care. It is important to follow the program in order to regain full use of the extremity involved. Increased flexibility and strength is the core of any exercise program. Exercise also produces endorphins the body’s natural pain reliever. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states that acupuncture may also stimulate endorphins and may help alleviate pain.

Topical Therapy

According to the Arthritis Foundation, certain creams, rubs and salves can be effective in treating joint pain. These medications are rubbed into the skin around the affected area. The Arthritis Foundation notes that there are three types of topical medications -- capsaicin, counterirritants and salicylates. These medications can be purchased over the counter. There is also a cream form of NSAID drug for topical use, but this requires a prescription. Heat is another topical therapy and is effective 48 hours post-injury. Sitting in a hot tub, using a microwaveable wrap or taking a hot bath can be very effective in the treatment of sore muscles.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or