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Overview of Muscle Fatigue

Muscle fatigue is a common symptom of many musculoskeletal conditions. It is often associated with spasms, pulled muscles and chronic back pain.

When it feels as though you are unable to move your body in ways that you would normally be able to move, such as lifting heavy objects, walking up the stairs or doing your exercise routine, you may be suffering from muscle fatigue. It often manifests as a dull, burning sensation in the muscles and a feeling of exhaustion or weakness.

While muscle fatigue may simply be caused by overworking, or a lack of exercise, it can also be a side effect of certain prescription medications or even a symptom of a serious spinal condition like a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or even sciatica. You should consult with a doctor if you feel that your muscle fatigue is hindering your day-to-day life.

Causes of Muscle Fatigue

Muscle fatigue has many different potential causes.  Some causes of muscle fatigue include:

  • Exercise (overexertion or overuse)
  • Dehydration
  • Poor posture, especially while sitting for long periods
  • Poor sleep positions and poor quality sleep habits
  • Medication side-effects
  • Other medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, anemia, depression, anxiety, mineral deficiencies, and stroke.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Muscle Fatigue

If you have muscle fatigue, the first thing to do is to rest. Then, try some gentle back and core strengthening exercises. You should also make sure you’re getting plenty of water (stay hydrated), making healthy dietary choices, and getting adequate sleep at night.

Go for a walk, stretch and don’t over-stress. If you do this for a few days and the fatigue doesn’t go away, consider asking your doctor for advice and an examination. With your doctor’s help, you can discover the underlying reason for your muscle fatigue. It may not have anything to do with your back, or it may be related to a medical condition that will warrant further testing.

Once you know why you’re experiencing muscle fatigue, there may be several ways to address it. In addition to rest and mild exercise, you may consider ice and heat therapy, physical therapy, massage, chiropractic care, and/or acupuncture. 

If your muscle fatigue does not resolve within a couple of weeks, consult with a physician for further workup.