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.

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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.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/23/2021
References
Arthritis Foundation: "Fibromyalgia, Lupus, or Both?"

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

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

Mayo Clinic: "Muscle Pain."

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."