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Old 07-11-2005, 10:48 AM
groman groman is offline
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 3,514
Sunburn and Throbbing Muscle Pain

Dear SDMB,

This morning I woke up to my girlfriend sobbing in pain next to me. She has not slept the entire night and finally cracked from the pain and exhaustion. What seems to have happened is that we spent a good 30 minutes in the sun yesterday and got a little sunburned. Hers worse than mine, but the sunburn itself doesn't seem all that bad.

Her entire body is pretty much sunburned (except for the swimsuit areas), however it seems that her arms (hands and arms ONLY) have developed an almost untolerable cramp/throbbing pain throughout sometime during the night. Her hands are not even sunburned, but she can barely move her fingers. We have an appointment to see a doctor in a few hours, but we'd just like SOME information about what is going on. Googling around I was not able to find anything useful, and the only thing the nurse suggested over the phone was dehydration(we did imbide in a couple wine coolers last night, so that's certainly a possibility).

She's had sunburns before that were much worse than this, but they've never caused muscle aches like this. The pain is debilitating to the point where she can barely hold a glass of water. So far we've been treating it with aloe, advil and plenty of fluids until we get to the doctor. However, my faith in the overworked Kaiser medical personnel is rather thin (for good reason), and I'd like to go in informed if at all possible. So any suggestions of what this might be, how it would be treated, what we should ask the doctor and when this is going to go away?

Regards and thank you in advance,

Old 07-11-2005, 11:03 AM
plnnr plnnr is offline
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 7,313
Dedicated sun-worshipper here and I've never heard of this before.

Has she been on any kind of medication lately that would make her photosensitive? 30 minutes doesn't sound like very much time to be so sunburned (unless she's very pale to begin with). Has she ever had an allergic reaction to too much sun? The fact that it is confined to her hands and arms doesn't sound like it is sun related either (if it were sun related, it should be system wide).

I am not a doctor. Standard disclaimer language, etc.
Old 07-11-2005, 11:12 AM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
Join Date: Dec 1999
Posts: 19,923
Heat cramps?

* Sweat is made of your body's salt and water. When you sweat a lot, your body loses too much salt. The low salt level causes muscles to tighten and cramp, which can be painful.
* They usually happen in your arm and leg muscles.
* Heat cramps can be a sign of heat exhaustion.
Old 07-11-2005, 11:16 AM
Ike Witt Ike Witt is online now
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Location: Lost in the mists of time
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My initial guess would be dehydration. Does she have a headache as well?
Old 07-11-2005, 12:00 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Sweet Home Chicago
Posts: 33,496
Get her something salty to eat. NOW. Pickle, potato chips, anything. Like Kimstu, my first thought was sodium imbalance.

You can make your own "electrolyte drink" by mixing:
1 quart water
teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon table salt
3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
If you have it, add teaspoon salt substitute

Have her drink as much of this as possible while you're on your way to the doctor.

If she doesn't feel even a little better within an hour, I'd strongly suggest not waiting for the doctor, and go to an ER. Serious dehydration is nothing to mess with.
Old 07-11-2005, 12:16 PM
Finagle Finagle is offline
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Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Somewhere near Boston
Posts: 9,912
Any rashes or lesions?

The sun can cause flare-ups in Lupus sufferers and, of course, porphyria sufferers are notoriously light-averse.

But long before I considered any alarming/unlikely diagnoses, I'd check out the dehydration theory and make sure that she's not taking any medicines that might have photosensitivity as a side-effect.
Old 07-11-2005, 12:58 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 34,811
Got Gatorade? I agree with WhyNot- but Gatorade or other such sports drink should be OK. I think we're talking dehydration.

Also some Potassium might help. Bannana?

Aloe is a good treatment for mild sunburn.
I am not a real Doctor
Old 07-11-2005, 05:55 PM
groman groman is offline
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 3,514
Ok, thank you very much for your advice guys.

We saw the doctor, he said the sunburn was actually much worse than it looked with dehydration on top of it. Prescribed bed rest, cold towels, Indomethacin 50mg and a cortisone cream and to stay off her feet for a few days.

I guess half an hour in the sun for a fair skinned person can be dangerous here in California.

Today is the day I remember my grandfather and the incredible greek genes he provided me that let me turn brown and a little itchy instead of peeling when I do something this stupid.

Thanks guys,


Old 04-16-2014, 09:57 PM
nomoreburn nomoreburn is offline
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 1
Mild Burn


I went to Galveston, Texas last weekend, and got a mild burn. I have had MUCH worse burns before, but this time has been much different. This time, I burnt my chest, and face. The crazy thing is that the pain that I am having is in my upper back muscles. (today, is Wednesday) the burn and redness is gone. I have drank a 1/2 gallon of water each day, so dehydration isn't really the problem. Does anyone have any other ideas? I am beginning to wonder if I should go see my Doctor. Anyone have any ideas?
Old 04-17-2014, 11:55 AM
phouka phouka is offline
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Escondido, CA
Posts: 6,728
Just drinking water isn't enough to offset dehydration. Your body loses more than water. It loses sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes. These are the chemicals that help your heart beat, your muscles contract, and your neurons fire.

Go get a Gatorade or other sports drink and drink it down. Call your doctor if that doesn't work.
Old 04-17-2014, 01:03 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Location: Panama
Posts: 38,419
Medical advice is best suited to IMHO.

Please note that this thread was started in 2005.

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