Body aches and pains are commonly caused by muscle overuse and can cause significant discomfort. Sometimes, all you may need is rest and some self-care to relieve your discomfort. If you have an underlying condition, your aches and pains may last a long time. Your aches and pains may also be caused by reduced blood flow to the hands and legs, common cold and other infections, and the use of certain medicines.
What are the causes?
There are various reasons why your body may ache, including the following:
- Playing sports or other forms of physical exertion, such as long walks or lifting heavy loads.
- Mental stress that causes your muscles to tense up.
- Common cold, flu or other infections.
- An underactive thyroid glans (Hypothyroidism).
- Reduced blood flow to your hands and feet.
- Sickle cell disease.
- Dehydration that reduces fluids in your muscles.
- Lupus that can cause inflammation of the muscles.
- Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- Lack of sleep that can affect your body's ability to repair muscle tissue.
When to visit a doctor?
When you have other symptoms that accompany body aches and pains then you should go to see your healthcare provider immediately as these may point to a severe underlying condition. Such symptoms include:
- Abnormally high heart rate.
- Persistent pain that does not improve with home remedies.
- Hot flashes or cold sweats.
- Body aches or pains that occur with a rash or swelling.
- Abnormal physical shaking.
- Headaches, such as tension headaches or migraines.
How to prevent?
You can't prevent body aches and pains, but by exercising regularly, you can increase your ability to withstand the effect of physical exertion and mental stress better. Drink lots of water and eat a diet that will provide the nutrition to support your activity.
How to manage and treat?
- Engage in mild to moderate exercise regularly. This will improve your ability to cope with physical exertion and stress, and will increase your stamina.
- Eat a balanced diet to support your body's ability to heal itself (e.g. plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, and diary and lean meat for proteins).
- Get enough rest (you need at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night).
- Stay hydrated by drinking water regularly. Experts suggest that you drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
- Over-the-counter cold medications can help relieve your symptoms and aches if you have a cold or flu.
- Over-the-counter pain medicines can help relieve mild to moderate pain. They may also improve your quality of sleep.
- Your doctor may recommend stronger pain killers if ordinary ones cannot make the pain go away.
- Your healthcare provider may also check for the cause of persistent body aches and treat the underlying disease.
- Your healthcare provider can provide education and referral for massage or physiotherapy for acute or chronic pain.
In most patients, there will be no complications or long-term impact on health. Pain is often mild to moderate and resolves when the underlying disorder is treated.
If you find that you need pain relievers more than 3 days a week, you should see your healthcare provider.
It helps if you try to get enough rest, reduce stress, and drink enough water. If you are making these lifestyle changes and the pain persists, contact your healthcare provider.