Types of body aches
If you have body aches, such as muscle pain or joint pain, there are different ways to deal with them at home. Although medications are often the first line of defense for people, you might be worried about their side effects or developing resistance.
Most body aches are musculoskeletal. It means they either affect the muscles or skeletal structures.
- Muscle aches. These include cramps, muscle spasms, or injuries to the muscle. Such aches also result from tumors and infections.
- Bone aches. Bone pain is caused due to musculoskeletal injuries, such as bone fractures. In rare cases, tumors also lead to bone pain.
- Tension aches. Your body ache may be due to overuse, injuries, sprains, and strains of the ligaments and tendons.
- Joint aches. Joint pain is very common. Besides pain, your body may also experience inflammation and stiffness. Joint pain tends to get worse with activity and goes away with rest.
In most cases, body aches are due to the overuse of muscles, tendons, or ligaments. But sometimes, they also result from certain health conditions.
For instance, tunnel syndromes are conditions that cause pinched nerves or nerve compression. Similarly, arthritis is a health condition in which joints are chronically (for too long) inflamed. People with arthritis experience regular stiffness and joint pain.
How do I get my body to stop aching?
If you experience musculoskeletal pain or have other body aches, you can use some self-care remedies to relieve pain at home.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications
Over-the-counter medications for pain relief are readily available at pharmacies. Medications that relieve pain are called analgesics. Each type of analgesic has a different mechanism of action and poses some risks.
If you occasionally have body aches, taking analgesics is fine. However, you should not overuse OTC medications for pain relief as your body may build a resistance to them over time. It's also important to read the labels to know how much dose is suitable for your age.
If you're unsure about the right dosage, talk to your doctor about it. All medications come with certain warnings. You should read them before using an analgesic, especially if you have existing health conditions.
If you have a body ache, you can use both heat and cold to get relief from it at home. Heat brings more blood to the site of pain and helps reduce muscle spasms and stiffness.
If your muscles feel tight, this is a good home remedy for relief. However, keep in mind that you should not put a heat pack on the site of injury for the first 48 hours following the injury.
A cold compress provides pain relief by numbing the site of body aches. It also helps reduce inflammation and swelling in the region.
Over-the-counter medications for pain relief
Nowadays, you can find a lot of analgesics under different brand names. Before you start using an analgesic, you should know its risks and course of action.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory steroidal drugs (NSAIDs) are some of the most common analgesics used for regular body aches. Unlike acetaminophen, these medicines also reduce inflammation and swelling.
NSAIDs tend to be safe if you take them for a short period. However, you should not administer NSAIDS to children under 18 since it can increase their risk of getting Reye syndrome. Aspirin is the most common NSAID you can buy over the counter.
- Children under 18 should not take aspirin.
- People with high blood pressure, stomach disease, or heart issues should speak to their doctors before using aspirin for regular pain relief.
- If you take other medicines, you should consult with your healthcare provider before using them in combination with NSAIDS.
Acetaminophen is commonly under the brand name Tylenol. It is effective against headaches and fevers. You can also take acetaminophen for common body pains and aches. Do note that it does not reduce inflammation.
Often, pain medications cause stomach problems. However, acetaminophen does not cause digestive issues, so it is also safe for children.
People with arthritis often take acetaminophen for pain relief since it has fewer side effects when compared with other analgesics. Besides Tylenol, other brand names for the OTC medication include Panadol.
When using acetaminophen for pain relief, keep the following in mind:
- If you are already taking a pain medication your healthcare provider recommended, talk to them before you use acetaminophen for everyday body aches. Some medicines react with each other in the body, leading to the lower effectiveness of one or both.
- Do not take more than 3 grams of acetaminophen in a day if you're an adult. If you overdose on acetaminophen, it can cause liver problems.
- If you want to administer acetaminophen to children, follow the recommended dosage on the medicine packaging or talk to your child's healthcare provider.
How to use heat packs for pain relief
Heat water on a stove and use it to dampen a towel. The water should not be scalding hot. When using a heat pack, do not put it directly on your skin as it can cause burns. Instead, apply it indirectly to your skin, such as over your clothes.
How to use a cold compress for pain relief
You can use a cold compress or ice pack to relieve pain. To make an ice towel at home, put a towel in cold water. When damp, fold the towel and put it in a plastic bag.
Put this sealable bag in the freezer. Let it stay in there for 15 minutes before taking it out and putting it on the site of pain.
You can also make a cold compress using ice cubes. Put ice cubes in a sealable plastic bag and fill it halfway with water. Damp a towel with cold water and wrap it around the bag. Now, put this on the site of pain.
A cold compress or pack can also help lower tenderness and inflammation in the area. Depending on the type of body ache, a cold pack may reduce swelling, too.
Cleveland Clinic: "Musculoskeletal Pain."
Johns Hopkins: "Ice Packs vs. Warm Compresses For Pain."
Mayo Clinic: "Home Remedies: Effective pain relief can be found without pills."
MedlinePlus: "Over-the-counter pain relievers."
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