What are body aches?
Most people have body aches at some point in their lives. They can make even simple activities difficult. You might wonder, how do I get my body to stop aching? Read on to learn more about what might be causing your aches and how to relieve the discomfort.
The most common types of body aches are:
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain — often accompanied by inflammation and stiffness
- Pain in your ligaments and tendons, which connect your joints and bones
Causes of body aches
Body aches are common. Some people might say that it's just part of growing old. But there are many different causes of body aches.
Infection or illness
If your entire body is aching, this may be due to an illness or infection. If you have a fever and inflammation as well as body aches, this may mean that you have the flu.
Post-exercise aches — especially after a new or more intensive workout — are normal. This soreness can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours to develop. It may last up to 72 hours after your workout. This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness.
You typically don't need treatment if you have sore muscles after exercise. But you should see a doctor if:
- Your pain level is severe
- Your urine becomes dark
- Your limbs swell
Your body aches may be due to anxiety or stress. Pain is a common symptom of anxiety disorders. This type of anxiety-related pain may feel like:
- Chronic aches in your middle or lower back
- Stiffness or an ache along your spine
- Sharp pain in your back or neck
Change of medication
If you switch to a different medicine, especially with antibiotics or statins, you may get some joint pain and muscle aches. Your eyes may also get red, or you might get a rash.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect different parts of your body, such as your joints and skin. An autoimmune disease is when your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells.
Lupus often causes achy muscles (myalgia). It might cause inflammation in your muscles sometimes, too.
Another cause of body aches is fibromyalgia. This is a condition that causes you to have pain and aches all over your body. Some people with fibromyalgia may have pain in their muscles that are used more often, such as those in their legs and back. The ache may feel like a throb, burn, or deep muscle ache.
You may also have other symptoms like:
- Extreme tiredness (fatigue) that doesn’t improve with rest or sleep
- Memory problems
- Mood problems
- Morning fatigue
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Sensitivity to bright lights, loud noises, and temperature changes
- Depression or anxiety
- Thyroid problems
Natural remedies for body aches
There are several natural remedies for body aches that you can try at home. But before trying out a natural treatment for body aches, talk to your doctor to make sure it won’t interact with any of your medications.
Collagen is a protein found in your body that connects your tissues. It’s also a major part of your:
As you get older, your body makes less collagen. Your collagen production may also decrease due to:
You may have heard that collagen can help with skin elasticity. It might also be beneficial for body aches. A study has shown that taking collagen daily could improve joint aches.
Another small study found that participants who took collagen supplements had less muscle soreness after exercise. But collagen had no effect on inflammation.
Collagen can be found as a powder or in pill form. You can also eat more collagen-rich foods that help boost your collagen production. These include:
- High-protein foods, like soy, eggs, dairy, and legumes
- Foods that are high in zinc, like shellfish, nuts, seeds, and whole grains
- Vitamin C–rich foods, like leafy greens, berries, and citrus fruits
Epsom salt soak
Soaking in an Epsom salt bath is said to be useful for relieving muscle aches. The main ingredient in Epsom salt is magnesium, which may help with healthy muscle function. A small study found that magnesium can be absorbed via the skin.
There's no evidence that soaking in an Epsom salt bath helps with body aches. But heat treatments can help relax your muscles, so soaking in a warm bath may help anyway.
Hot and cold therapy
You can help ease body aches with heat therapy at home. When you warm up your muscles or joints, your blood vessels expand. This means that more oxygen, blood, and nutrients can be delivered to your tissues.
There are several ways to warm up your body:
- Warm compress. Use an electric heating pad on the parts of your body that ache. Use it for only 20 minutes at a time.
- Warm shower. Start your morning with a warm shower to reduce stiffness and aches. The best water temperature is between 92 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit (33 to 37 degrees Celsius).
- Warm bath. A warm bath can help soothe your body aches.
Cold therapy can decrease inflammation and reduce blood flow. It’s useful if you have an injury or painful muscle spasms.
You can use an ice pack, frozen vegetables, or a frozen towel. If you use an ice pack, place a towel between it and your skin. Keep the cold pack on your skin for only 20 minutes at a time. Then, wait an hour before repeating the process.
Complementary and alternative therapies
If your body aches are due to stress or anxiety, you may want to try some alternative therapies and relaxation activities. These include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Breathing training
- Progressive muscle relaxation
When your body is aching, the last thing you may want to do is exercise. But exercise can help with your body aches in different ways. For example, it can:
- Boost your immune system
- Cause your brain to release natural pain relievers
- Help with inflammation
- Reduce your sensitivity to pain
- Build strength in your muscles and improve flexibility, which can reduce pain
- Reduce fatigue
- Improve your mood
When exercising, don't ignore any pain that keeps getting worse. This can leave you even achier and lead to inflammation. If something doesn't feel right, talk to a doctor.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American College of Sports Medicine: "ACSM Information On…Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)."
Amino Acids: "The effects of collagen peptides on muscle damage, inflammation and bone turnover following exercise: a randomized, controlled trial."
Anxiety & Depression Association of America: "Chronic Pain."
Arthritis Foundation: "Heat Therapy Helps Relax Stiff Joints."
Beaumont: "When to Use Ice and When to Use Heat for Aches and Pains."
Consumer Reports: "Q&A: Epsom salts for pain?"
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Collagen."
Lupus Foundation of America: "Lupus and the Joints, Muscles, and Bones," "What is lupus?"
Northwestern Medicine: "Quick Dose: When Should I See a Physician for Muscle Aches and Joint Pains?"
Nutrition Research: "Daily oral supplementation with collagen peptides combined with vitamins and other bioactive compounds improves skin elasticity and has a beneficial effect on joint and general wellbeing."
Office on Women's Health: "Fibromyalgia."
Oschner Health: "Body Aches and Chills."
Utah State University: "Exercise and Chronic Pain."
UTSouthwestern Medical Center: "7 natural supplements that might relieve back, joint, and muscle pain.”
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