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Ouch! Why do we experience body aches?

Ouch! Why do we experience body aches?

People mostly tend to nurse pain with home remedies or take painkillers, but it could also be a sign of an underlying ailment
Photo by Anantha Subramanyam K

We all have experienced body ache in one form or another. It could be back pain, headache, toothache, stomach cramp, knee pain or leg ache, to name a few. At times, the ache could be all over the body.

All pain hurts, but the frequency and intensity could be different in dif. While at times the pain could be temporary, sometimes it lasts for a long period of time. When the pain is not excruciating, people mostly nurse it with home remedies or take a painkiller. However, doctors say pain could also be a sign of an underlying ailment.  Thus, it needs medical attention.

Explaining the reasons for body pain, Dr Brunda MS, consultant, internal medicine, Aster CMI Hospital, Bengaluru, told Happiest Health that when a person works for a long time, it causes muscle stress and strain.

“This may cause inflammation of the muscle and can cause body aches,” she said. “Body ache can also be a symptom of an underlying condition. And various infections such as flu, common cold and other viral or bacterial infections can cause body aches.”

Dr Subrata Das, senior consultant, internal medicine and diabetology, Sakra World Hospital, Bengaluru, told Happiest Health that body ache is a broad word for pain in the muscles and joints. “It can be classified into patients with muscle and joint pain, arthritis, autoimmune and metabolic and endocrine causes like thyroid dysfunction among other things,” he said.

“There are several causes of body pain. If the pain lasts only for a few days or a week, it might be caused by common viral diseases such as dengue or Covid-19. Patients who suffer body aches for an extended period of time without additional symptoms, such as joint pain, may have a deficiency, such as vitamin D deficiency or calcium deficiency. Sleep deprivation is a common prevalent cause of bodily aches and headaches, which in certain circumstances can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes.”

Some common body ache reasons are stress, dehydration, lack of sleep, cold or flu, anemia, vitamin D deficiency, mononucleosis, pneumonia, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, lupus, Lyme disease, histoplasmosis and multiple sclerosis.

“Body aches may arise from various reasons,” Dr Brunda said. “They can result from infections and viruses, certain medical conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis, use of certain medications, stress, dehydration, lack of sleep and overtime workout.”


Signs and symptoms of body pain

Pain in a specific part of the body, weakness, fatigue, shivers or changes in body temperature, cold, etc are some of the common symptoms of body aches.

“[Body aches] are usually harmless,” said Dr Brunda. “They vary in intensity and frequency. If the pain becomes unbearable and [starts] hampering day-to-day routine, it is recommended to seek medical help.”

When to see a doctor?

The usual advice of doctors is not to wait for the pain to get worse. It is always advisable to seek medical help when a person is dealing with any kind of body ache. According to medical experts, a person must see a doctor if they start experiencing signs such as:

  • persistent pain despite taking home remedies
  • severe pain with no apparent cause and especially with a rash
  • body aches accompanied by fever and body aches after taking a particular medication

“Those having trouble in swallowing, eating or drinking, shortness of breath, vomiting, change in vision, extreme fatigue, inability to move part of the body, loss of consciousness and a seizure must seek immediate medical help,” said Dr Brunda.

Dr Das stressed on the need to take body pains seriously. “It is important to visit a doctor as the patient may be suffering from various other problems such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, various types of muscle disorders (myopathies) and autoimmune diseases which can lead to additional concerns in the future,” he said. “It is important to notice that patients with anemia and body ache can have underlying complex problems. Similarly, those patients who have not received treatment for vitamin D disorder could develop bone problem and patients with auto-immune disorder can get multiple-organ involvement if they are not diagnosed on time.”

Treatment for body pain

Since all body aches are different, they need different treatments.

Dr Brunda said the treatment of body aches focuses on treating the underlying medical condition that causes aches and pains. “One can follow home remedies to relieve the pain such as taking proper rest, keeping yourself hydrated, having a warm bath, etc,” she said.  “A doctor may prescribe medicines that can help reduce pain and inflammation.”

Dr Das said treatment for body pains is determined based on the source of the problem. “It is important to diagnose and treat any deficiencies, auto-immune illnesses, replacements or infections that cause body aches,” he said.

Share Your Experience/Comments

One Response

  1. fibromyalgia gets a fleeting mention in the above article. This is one of the most debilitating issues around pain management and I think comes closer to migraine and cancer-related pain….you could write more on this and how it affects women….

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