Suffering from constant body ache? Don’t just ignore it, the pain can be a symptom of an underlying health condition. Body aches are a common symptom of many serious conditions
Standing, walking, or exercising for long periods of time may lead to body aches. If it’s the reason in your case, it is not a thing to worry about. Take note – viral or bacterial infections, hypothyroidism, arteriosclerosis, lupus can also cause muscle and joint pain.
No matter your age, constant body aches can affect anyone and be a frightening experience. The most common body aches are headache, neck and back pain, muscle pain, joint pain; and also neuropathic pain. This occurs when the nervous system does not function properly. It is a medical condition that needs attention and should not be ignored. Here are some of the most common causes of constant body pain you should know.
When is constant body pain a matter of concern?
The most obvious symptom of this condition is, of course, severe pain in the muscles and joints, a lot like what you experience during flu. But there are other symptoms that occur along with the pain:
- pain in a specific part of the body
- shivers or changes in body temperature
- cold and flu-like symptoms
Body aches may occur for many different reasons. Most are easily treatable and relatively harmless, but sometimes body aches can be due to more serious medical conditions.
Possible causes of body aches include:
If you suffer from hypothyroidism, body aches can be the first symptoms you experience. Hypothyroidism is a disorder that occurs when a person’s body is not producing enough thyroid hormone. This can have several symptoms, and among these are muscle cramping, aching, stiff joints, and body aches. Sometimes the aching is uncertain and nonspecific.
The good news is that this thyroid problem is treatable with prescription drugs, which can restore your hormone level to normal and will help relieve fatigue and aches. These medications need to be taken throughout life, and they can prevent dangerous consequences of the condition, which on the extreme side can include coma and death.
Fibromyalgia can cause constant body ache
Pain, fatigue, and muscle stiffness are all symptoms of fibromyalgia, a long-term condition that causes aches and pains throughout the body.
Fibromyalgia may result from the way the central nervous system processes pain messages when they occur in the body.
Poor Circulation can cause constant body ache
If you notice your legs aching after a walk, it could be a circulation problem. Claudication (typically, obstruction of an artery) causes burning, cramping, or pain in one or both legs that are relieved after resting. It is caused by atherosclerosis, a condition that narrows and hardens the arteries through plaque buildup.
People diagnosed with this condition may be put on medication or recommended to walk more frequently, as well as to stop smoking and reduce saturated fats from their diets. There are minimally invasive treatments as well, including angioplasty, stents, and more. Surgical treatments may be necessary if symptoms are severe.
Lupus can cause constant body ache
The aching you feel in your joints may be related to the autoimmune disease known as lupus. Lupus causes your immune system to attack healthy tissues, which can make you ache all over. During a bout of lupus, your body becomes inflamed throughout. Part of the inflammation process involves a thickening of the lining around your joints. This makes your joints and tendons swell and causes body aches.
Some lupus patients describe this pain as being similar to arthritis. Unlike arthritis, though, lupus usually does not cause permanent damage to your bones and joints.
The first line of defense for this type of discomfort is over-the-counter medicine. Anti-inflammatory painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen can bring relief. Heating pads and warm baths and showers can also ease stiff joints.
Infections and viruses can cause constant body ache
The flu, the common cold, and other viral or bacterial infections can cause body aches.
When such infections occur, the immune system sends white blood cells to fight off the infection.
This can result in inflammation, which can leave the muscles in the body feeling achy and stiff.
Medications can cause constant body ache
Some medicines and drugs, such as statins and blood pressure medications, have side effects that make the body feel sore, stiff, and achy.
Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and certain drugs, including cocaine and opiates, can also have a similar effect.
Fluid retention can cause constant body ache
When the body retains fluid, swelling and inflammation may develop, resulting in general muscular aches and pains. A person may also experience sharp, localized pains and cramps.
Conditions that can lead to fluid retention include:
- thyroid problems, especially an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
- congestive heart failure
- cirrhosis of the liver
- severe malnutrition
- chronic kidney disease and nephrotic syndrome
- venous insufficiency
- problems with lymphatic drainage
Each of these conditions needs specific treatment, but some home remedies can reduce the impact of water retention.
Hypokalemia can cause constant body ache
Hypokalemia is when a person has low potassium in their bloodstream.
Low potassium affects the way nerves and muscles function, which can result in body aches, weakness, fatigue, and muscle cramps.
Stress can cause constant body ache
Stress can cause tension in the body and can also weaken the immune system. This may make the muscles feel stiff, as well as affect the body’s response to inflammation and infection.
Staying hydrated is essential to keep a person’s body functioning well. Dehydration can sometimes cause a person to feel tired and sore.
Lack of sleep
Scientists think there might be a two-way link between sleep and pain.
People who experience chronic pain often find it hard to sleep. At the same time, people with insomnia often experience chronic pain.
Over time, not getting enough sleep can lead to exhaustion. This may make the body feel achy, sluggish, and heavy.
Lack of sleep also affects the body’s ability to repair tissues and cells. When the body does not have sufficient time to repair and recuperate, a person may experience aches and pains more frequently.
Such as Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be very dangerous without treatment. Pneumonia may result in an inability to get enough oxygen into the body.
Without enough oxygen, red blood cells and tissues in the body function properly, which may cause aches and pains.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
In a similar way to a person who does not get enough sleep, someone with CFS may suffer from muscular aches in addition to insomnia, exhaustion, and weakness.
One out of every four American adults has arthritis, one of the most common causes of chronic pain. Arthritis is a catch-all diagnosis that includes more than 100 diseases affecting joints and muscles.
The most common of these is osteoarthritis, which slowly breaks down the bones and cartilage that makeup one or more joints. Along with body aches, osteoarthritis causes stiffness, swelling, and limits the movements of the joints it impacts
Various autoimmune disorders can cause body aches. These include:
Lupus: This occurs when a person’s immune system begins to attack healthy tissues, causing inflammation.
Myositis: This is an inflammation of the muscles. Other symptoms of myositis include fatigue and a general feeling of being unwell.
Multiple sclerosis (MS): This is an autoimmune condition that affects the central nervous system. People with MS feel body aches and pains because the tissue surrounding their nerve cells has broken down due to persistent inflammation.
Rashes on Eyelids
If your musculoskeletal pain comes bundled with eyelid rashes, you could be in the grips of dermatomyositis. This is an autoimmune disease that causes general aching because it inflames the blood vessels beneath your skin. It can make it hard to swallow and stand up from a seated position. Common symptoms include fatigue and rashes. These can be red or purple, and they tend to itch. And they don’t just appear on eyelids; dermatomyositis rashes may appear on cheeks, elbows, knees, knuckles, the back, or the upper chest.
Your doctor might prescribe medications like corticosteroids to control the symptoms. There are exercises that can be learned to keep your strength and flexibility up as well, and therapies to control the swallowing problems that can result from this disease. Purified blood products can be offered as injections, and these can stop the damage to your muscles and skin for a time. But they need to be administered regularly and they are expensive.
Polymyalgia Rheumatica (PMR)
If you’ve experienced stiff joints and aching in your upper arms, neck, thighs, and lower back that is worse in the morning, you may have polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). This whole-body pain usually comes on quickly, sometimes even overnight, and it can make it difficult to raise your arms over your shoulders.
PMR’s cause is not yet understood. What we do know is that it seems to originate in the joints, and unlike fibromyalgia, PMR causes inflammation. It is most common among Caucasians over age 50, with the average age of a PMR patient being age 70, and is more common in women than in men.
Unfortunately, the usual anti-inflammatory pain medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen do not offer much help in the case of PMR. Instead, doctors are more likely to prescribe corticosteroids. If PMR is the problem, these drugs can respond quickly and dramatically, sometimes easing a patient’s pain after a single dose. This isn’t always the case, however, and treatment may take longer in some instances to ease inflammation.
If you experience muscle pain within two weeks of being bitten by a tick, you may have contracted Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) caused by Rickettsia rickettsii that are transmitted during the tick bite. Since tick bites can be painless, you may not realize you’ve been bitten, but the presence of a fever and a rash on your wrists and ankles may confirm the disease.
RMSF is serious. People can die a little over a week after symptoms begin. Fortunately, it is also treatable with antibiotics. However, if a case of RMSF is severe, long-term health problems can result, including blood vessel damage (vasculitis) and clotting and bleeding in the brain and other organs. Treatment is most effective if it begins within the first five days that signs of RMSF first show themselves.
Bull’s Eye Rash?
If you notice joint pain within a month of a tick bite, that could be Lyme disease. When Lyme disease was discovered in Lyme, Connecticut in 1975, researchers believed they were dealing with juvenile arthritis at first. The symptoms can resemble arthritis, with swelling joints in the later stages and common joint pain throughout.
So how can you tell if you’re dealing with Lyme disease or arthritis? One absolute sign of Lyme is a large rash around the bite itself, which can either be solid red or a bulls-eye pattern. This is a major warning that you need fast treatment, and it occurs in about nine out of every 10 cases. Other common symptoms of the infection include swollen lymph glands, headaches, dizziness, shooting pains, numbness, tingling, and a general achy feeling. Lyme disease is caused when the bacteria, Borrelia burgdoferi, are transmitted by the tick bite.
The saying “no pain, no gain” is often heard around the gym. But studies show the opposite may actually be true. According to one study of about 40,000 Norwegian adults, those who exercised more than three times a week were 28% less likely to experience chronic musculoskeletal complaints. Those who work out regularly were 50% less likely to experience painful symptoms for more than 15 days out of a given month.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Every part of your body has a receptor for vitamin D, from your bones to your muscles to your brain cells. And there seems to be a relationship between very low levels of vitamin D and chronic pain. Which one causes the other is up for debate, but since it has other health benefits some researchers believe vitamin D supplements make sense if someone has chronic pain. Whether or not the supplements bring relief is up for debate.
Arthritis suffers should be particularly concerned for two reasons. For one, vitamin D maintains blood calcium, keeping bones hard and strong. For another, corticosteroids (a common arthritis treatment) seem to reduce your body’s vitamin D levels.
Getting more vitamin D in the summertime is easy. Simply by exposing 50% of your skin to sunlight for about 15 minutes, your body produces the necessary vitamin D for a daily dose. This could be more difficult in the winter, particularly in northern areas with very little sunlight. For people who can’t stand outside in the sun, fatty fish provides a high amount of vitamin D, and raw fish offers even more. Many grains and cereals are vitamin D-fortified as well.
When to see a doctor
A person should see a doctor if they experience:
- Resting: This allows the body time to repair and recuperate.
- Drinking plenty of fluids: Staying hydrated can help ease achiness caused by dehydration.
- Taking over-the-counter medications (OTC): Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which can reduce pain and inflammation. Having a warm bath: The heat can help relax muscles and ease tension in the body.
- Regulating temperature: This may include reducing fever, keeping warm, or staying cool to alleviate shivering and prevent the muscles from seizing up.
- Persistent pain that does not improve with home remedies
- severe pain, especially if there is no apparent cause
- any body aches or pains that occur with a rash
- body aches and pains after a tick bite
- body aches or muscular pain accompanied by severe redness or swelling
- particular medication can also cause body aches
- a persistent fever
A doctor will prescribe treatment for any underlying condition that causes body aches and pains, but a person can also try the following remedies to help alleviate the discomfort:
Other symptoms that can accompany body aches may require emergency medical attention. These include:
- severe water retention
- difficulty swallowing, eating, or drinking
- shortness of breath
- vomiting, particularly with a high temperature or fever
- a stiff neck
- changes in vision
- extreme exhaustion that does not go away
- sensitivity to light
- weak muscles or inability to move part of the body
- fainting or loss of consciousness
- a seizure
The doctor can help diagnose the cause of body aches and determine if treatment is necessary.
If a person experiences body aches for more than 2 weeks, and they do not know what is causing them, they should see a doctor regardless of whether any other symptoms occur.
Treatment for Chronic Pain
While chronic pain has many causes, the good news is that you don’t need to suffer. There are plenty of ways to seek relief from ongoing agony. Some approaches are more effective than others, so talk to your doctor about what treatments would be best for you. They include:
- Relaxation therapy
- Behavior modification
- Tai chi
- Massage therapy
- Self-management programs
Mild body aches that improve over time and ease with rest, rehydration, and OTC treatment are usually no cause for concern.
However, body aches can also be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.
If a person experiences frequent or persistent body aches or aches that occur alongside other, more severe symptoms, they should speak with a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.