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Why do the muscles itch? 5 causes and home treatment
An itchy muscle is the feeling of itching that is not on the surface of the skin, but can be felt deep under the skin in the muscle tissue. It usually exists with no rash or visible irritation. This can happen to anyone, although certain conditions make people more susceptible to it. It's especially common among runners.
Scientists are studying itching (also called pruritus) and its relationship to neural health and pain. Itchy muscles aren't actually muscle tissue to be scratched, but rather nerves in the muscles that are sending the wrong signal. It can also be related to how nerves respond to increased blood flow during exercise and warm temperatures.
Itchy muscles aren't dangerous, but they can be a symptom of another health problem. You should speak to a doctor about possible causes if the feeling persists or repeats.
If you are pregnant and suddenly itchy, you may have severe liver disease. Talk to a doctor if you have any other signs of an allergic reaction.
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why do my muscles itch? - Causes
We don't know exactly why muscles itch, but there are a number of possible causes and relationships. It's easier to determine a cause when you have other symptoms, but often itchy muscles are an isolated feeling.
The nervous system has receptors that respond to stimuli (such as heat, cold, pain, and itching) that tell your body how to react to protect itself. Scientists study neurological conditions and what causes nerves to react the way they do.
More and more studies are finding overlap in neural responses to pain and itching. This could lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of chronic pain and itching.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease of unknown cause that affects the muscles. The pain and fatigue in the muscles from fibromyalgia can also cause muscle itching. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia include unexplained pain and weakness.
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Chronic fatigue syndrome
Recent research has found a possible cause for some symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). People with CFS can experience:
- Digestive problems
- chronic pain
- Bone and joint problems.
Scientists found these symptoms to be linked to a single gene in people with CFS and their family members. The itching caused by CFS is more at the skin level than in the muscles. However, CFS affects muscles too, and when they are exhausted they may itch.
Itching is one of the abnormal sensations that can occur with multiple sclerosis (MS). Related symptoms are burning, stabbing pain and a "needles and needles" sensation. MS is a central nervous system disorder that can make the muscles feel itchy, even if nothing else is causing the itchiness.
Damage to the nervous system can cause itching for no apparent reason. Conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, shingles, and cavernous hemangioma can cause neuropathic itching because they affect many nerve pathways. Because neuropathic itching is difficult to localize, it can be felt as itching deep in the muscle.
One study found that itching can be caused by problems with connectivity in the brain. This contributes to a growing body of science aimed at better understanding how nerves and neural health affect itching.
Itchy muscles during and after exercise
If your itching only happens while you're exercising, you likely aren't having any other symptoms.
People complain of itchy muscles, especially in warm weather or if it's been a while since they last worked out. Exercise, especially cardio exercise like running and walking, increases blood flow and sends a lot of oxygen to the muscles. The theory is that the blood vessels in your muscles expand beyond the normal, and that wakes up the nerves around them.
One animal study found that mice have an important nerve receptor that signals both muscle contraction and itching.
Because the nerve signals that convey pain are closely related to the nerve signals for itching, itching could also be a way your body handles stress while exercising.
Vasculitis is inflammation of the blood vessels, and case studies have shown that exercise can cause it. When your blood vessels are inflamed, the walls of the vessels change and can restrict blood flow. All of these can send signals to the nerves in your muscles and make your muscles itchy.
None of this has been proven, but itchy muscles are a common experience among runners.
It could be that one of your regular medications or supplements is causing the itchiness. Ask a doctor about any possible side effects of your medication, including drug interactions if you are taking multiple medications.
Itching during pregnancy could simply be due to your body expanding to grow and carry your baby. It could also be a symptom of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP). ICP is a liver disease that can pose a risk to you and your baby. It's most common in the third trimester. Talk to a doctor right away if you have any signs of ICP.
In rare cases, people can actually have an allergic reaction to exercise. Exercise-induced anaphylaxis can include itching, as well as a rash and difficulty breathing.
Treatment of the itchy muscles | treatment
How you treat itchy muscles depends entirely on the cause. A doctor should assess cases of severe and persistent itching. The main goal of treating itchy muscles is to reduce the urge to scratch without harming the muscles or skin.
Home Remedies To Help Relieve Your Itchy Muscles
Mild and rare cases of itching can be treated at home.
Try the following:
- Massage with a gentle, fragrance-free lotion.
- Take a cool shower or bath to slow the blood flow.
- Meditate to calm your mind and get rid of the itchiness.
- Try the legs in the yoga pose for post-running recovery.
- Apply ice to numb the feeling.
- Capsaicin cream is an over-the-counter cream that may provide relief.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can reduce muscle inflammation and therefore itching.
If you have a chronic condition that causes muscle itching, a doctor can help devise a treatment plan.
In some cases, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and antihistamines can help.
For neuropathic itching, local anesthesia was performed to dampen the nerves.
Some unsubstantiated evidence suggests that reflexology could improve the body systems, which could benefit your nerves and prevent itching.
When to call a doctor
Call your doctor if your itching continues:
Call 911 or get emergency help if you have these signs of a severe allergic reaction:
- scratchy throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Panic or fear
- difficulties swallowing
- Racing heart
Itchy muscles are a common feeling that may or may not be related to a more general health problem. It usually has more to do with nerves and blood flow than a real itch.
If you experience extreme or persistent itching, especially if it's related to other changes in your health, it's important to work with a doctor to find the cause and seek treatment.
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