What are body aches?

Health conditions that cause whole body aches include flu, COVID-19, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune disorders.
Health conditions that cause whole body aches include flu, COVID-19, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune disorders.

Body aches happen when your muscles, tendons, joints, and other connective tissues hurt. You may also have aches in your fascia, which is the soft tissue between your muscles, bones, and organs. If you feel like all of the muscles in your body hurt, that’s a sign of infection or illness.

Symptoms of whole body aches

Body aches are just what they sound like — your entire body hurts. Every joint and muscle feels tense with a dull ache that doesn’t improve. If you can’t pinpoint a reason for your body aches, you may need to contact your doctor.

Causes of whole body aches

Aches and pains in your muscles are common and are usually caused by overuse. When you work out or do too much of a rigorous activity, your muscles may be sore for a few days. However, this type of muscle ache is limited to the muscles you used during the activity.

When you have muscle pain caused by another health condition or medication, your muscle pain won’t be limited to a single muscle group. Statins and antibiotics are medications used to treat infections or conditions throughout your whole body, so they may cause body aches as a side effect.

Health conditions that cause body aches include:

Flu

Having body aches is one symptom that sets the flu apart from a common cold.

COVID-19

Although scientists are still studying all of the possible symptoms, body aches are a sign that you may have contracted coronavirus.

Fibromyalgia

The symptoms of this disease can mimic the feeling of muscle aches.

Autoimmune disorders

Autoimmune disorders are caused by the body attacking itself. Conditions like lupus or thyroid problems may contribute to aching muscles.

Infections like the flu or COVID-19 attack your entire body, causing all-over soreness. Health conditions that impact many of your joints cause similar symptoms.

When to see the doctor for whole body aches

Since pain is a sign that something is wrong, talk to your doctor about how your body is feeling. Unexplained body aches may be accompanied by other symptoms like:

If your body aches are accompanied by other worrisome symptoms, schedule a visit with your doctor. Even without additional symptoms, talk to your doctor if your body aches last more than a few days and don’t seem to improve with self care. This can be a sign of a serious medical condition that may do damage to your body if left untreated.

QUESTION

Medically speaking, the term "myalgia" refers to what type of pain? See Answer

Diagnosis of whole body aches

Body aches are the symptom of a larger health condition. Your doctor will ask about your other symptoms to pinpoint what is causing your body aches. Your doctor may complete a blood test to look for signs of a more serious condition like lupus or fibromyalgia.

You may also receive a nasal swab to test for an infection like the flu or COVID-19. Once your doctor can determine what is causing your body aches, they can treat that condition and alleviate your symptoms.

Treatment of whole body aches

Aside from treating a medical condition causing your body aches, over-the-counter pain medicines and anti-inflammatories can temporarily relieve your pain. Other at-home remedies for your body aches include:

  • Relax: Give your muscles and joints time to rest and heal.
  • Ice or heating pad: If there is one area of your body that hurts more, ice and heat can help alleviate your symptoms.
  • Hot bath: A warm bath can help relax your muscles.

How do I get my body to stop aching?

Body aches can occur for a variety of reasons. You can experience body pain when the weather changes, when you contract a virus, or from exercise and repetitive movement.

Body aches are pains that develop throughout your body. This often occurs in your muscles, bones, and joints. Some people experience widespread pain all over the body called fibromyalgia.

Body aches can be a symptom of many different conditions. 

Some aching may be a common part of the aging process and may be normal to experience after activity or during sickness. Persistent pain may be a sign of another condition and should be treated by a doctor.

Symptoms of body aches

Symptoms of body aches may vary depending on the condition. There are different types of body aches and pains that might occur at different times for different reasons. Some common symptoms include:

Your pain may come and go, or it may be a chronic problem.

Sometimes body aches may accompany other symptoms, including:

Causes of body aches

Body aches can be harmless and can be a common side effect of exercise, overworking muscles, weather changes, or stress. They can also be caused by certain conditions. These may include:

Who can get body aches

Anyone can develop body aches, especially if you’ve been exercising or doing repetitive physical activities. These can include lifting or standing or sitting for long periods of time at your workplace. 

People who have a joint disease like osteoarthritis may regularly experience body aches. Older people may experience more body aches as bones and joints wear down with age. 

People with an autoimmune disease may also experience body aches as a symptom of their disease. Autoimmune diseases are inflammatory. This inflammation can cause pain in your joints and muscles.

Diagnosis for body aches

If your body aches are a chronic condition, only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose the medical reason for them. Treating this underlying condition is probably the best way to get your body to stop aching.

If your occasional body aches are not accompanied by the symptoms of other conditions, they might just mean that you need to stretch your muscles or rest. They could also be part of a flu virus that will pass on its own in a few days.

If your body aches become more intense, or persist, your doctor may want to do a physical exam. They may look for redness, swelling, or bruising

Your doctor may also want to do some imaging tests like an x-ray of the area to check for injuries like a bone fracture, a torn muscle, or a joint disease like osteoarthritis.

Treatments to stop body aching

Body aches can usually be treated at home with self-care practices, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and lifestyle adjustments. 

Medications

You can use over-the-counter medications as a treatment for your body aches. These may include:

  • Pain relievers
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Pain relief creams
  • Heat or ice wraps

Your doctor may prescribe medications to relieve symptoms if your pain becomes severe and persistent. Prescribed medicines might also be necessary to treat a chronic condition like fibromyalgia or a joint disease caused by infection. These may include:

  • Pain relieving medications
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Hormones

Home remedies

There are many things you can do at home to stop your body aches. These body aches treatment remedies include:

  • Hot bath or hot tub relaxation
  • Epsom salt baths
  • Switching between hot packs and ice packs
  • Stretching stiff and sore muscles
  • Drinking fluids
  • Swimming
  • Gentle yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Wearing a brace or tensor wrap 
  • Rest
  • Getting extra sleep
  • Mindfulness techniques
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Strength exercises
  • Weight loss if you’re overweight

Alternative therapies

Body aches often go away on their own, especially with rest, sleep, good hydration, gentle exercise and stretching. 

However, there may be other alternative therapies that can help you to better manage your pain. These include: 

  • Chiropractic therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Acupuncture therapy
  • Biofeedback therapy
  • Aromatherapy 
  • Physical therapy

Therapeutic supplements like curcumin, glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids

SLIDESHOW

Rheumatoid Arthritis Exercises: Joint-Friendly Workouts See Slideshow

Complications of body aches

Pain is a message your body sends that something might be wrong. If your pain is persistent, becomes more intense, or accompanies other symptoms, you may have developed a joint or autoimmune disease or other condition. 

It’s important to speak to your doctor about your body aches for treatment.

People who live with fibromyalgia may experience problems with memory and getting enough sleep. They may also have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Talk to your doctor about your symptoms to find medical care that works for you.

You should see your doctor if you experience bone pain with other symptoms or conditions like:

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Medically Reviewed on 3/1/2022
References
American College of Rheumatology: "Fibromyalgia."

Arthritis Foundation: "Vitamins and Supplements for Arthritis."

Arthritis Foundation: "Fibromyalgia, Lupus, or Both?"

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Cold vs. Flu."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Symptoms of Coronavirus."

Harvard Health Publishing: "New guidelines for aches, pain, and strains."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Myalgia."

Mayo Clinic: "Muscle Pain."

National Health Service: "Fibromyalgia."

National Health Service: "Flu."

Northwestern Medicine: "Quick Dose: When should I see a physician for muscle aches and joint pains?"

South African Family Practice: "Colds and Flu — an overview of the management."

Tyneside Integrated Musculoskeletal Service: "Chronic or Persistent Musculoskeletal Pain."