General body aches are typically a sign that your body is feeling down. In many cases this pain is dull and will resolve itself on its own. In other cases this is a response from the immune system that is letting the body know that something is causing a disturbance. This can be an infection or an injury. Noting the other symptoms that accompany the aches and pains will help you determine the underlying cause so it can be properly treated.
Symptoms of General Body Aches
Body aches are rarely severe. They will manifest themselves as a general aching sensation or stiffness throughout the body. In some cases this can be described as a burning or searing pain. This may also be accompanied by weakness, low endurance, sleep disturbances and fatigue. Conditions such as travelling long distances, muscular extension, humidity, alteration in barometric pressure or emotional stress can have an impact on the presence of these symptoms.
Conditions that Cause General Body Aches
General body aches can be caused by several conditions with a range of severity.
Temporary conditions can cause pain throughout the body that is not severe or dangerous. These conditions may be caused by an increase in pyruvic or lactic acid in the system or soreness because you recently overused the muscles.
Medical Conditions: One of the most common causes of body aches is influenza. This is a virus that exhibits symptoms such as cough, fever, headache or exhaustion. This is commonly mistaken for a common cold due to the similar symptoms. Because the flu is virally based there is not usually a medication that can be prescribed to help alleviate the symptoms. Rest and home remedies to help alleviate the nausea or congestion can help alleviate discomfort until the body can fight off the infection.
Other medical conditions such as fever, other viral infections or a cellular immune response can result in temporary body aches.
Others: Overextending the muscles with physical activity or traumatizing the muscles due to painful activity such as a car accident can result in aches all over the body.
Medium Term Conditions
Medium term conditions are referred to as body aches that last for a longer length of time but eventually dissipate. This can be caused by a serious condition such as a major infection that causes a full body response.
Lyme Disease: Lyme disease is an illness that is transmitted by the bite of a tick. In addition to body aches and joint pain, patients will notice a rash in a bull's eye pattern near the site where they were bitten and flu like symptoms such as chills, fever or headaches. As the disease progresses, neurological problems can occur as well. In severe cases heart problems, eye inflammation, severe fatigue and liver inflammation can occur. Antibiotics can be used to help alleviate these symptoms once the offending tick has been removed.
Pneumonia: Pneumonia is caused by infection that results in the inflammation of the lungs. This infection can be caused by the presence of a virus, bacteria or fungi. In some cases this can also be caused by inadvertently inhaling liquids or chemicals that get trapped in the lungs. The inflammation from pneumonia can cause coughing, fever and difficulty breathing. The cough may result in the patient spitting up phlegm, but this will not happen with all infections. The patient suffering from pneumonia will be ordered to rest and increase their intake of fluids to help flush the infection from the system. Rounds of antibiotics will frequently be administered to help alleviate the discomfort.
Chronic conditions that result in body aches cause the body to feel this discomfort at some level at a constant rate. This may be caused by inflammation of the cells or damage to the nervous system.
Autoimmune Diseases: Autoimmune diseases cause the immune system to attack a portion of the body rather than a foreign intruder. Common autoimmune diseases that can cause body aches include lupus and severe joint pain often stemming from arthritis or systemic inflammation.
Fibromyalgia is an autoimmune disease that causes musculoskeletal pain throughout the body. This can cause fatigue, trouble sleeping, memory trouble or mood swings due to the amplified response of the nervous system and the way your brain interprets signals from the nervous system. Surgery, infection, physical or psychological trauma can cause this condition to appear, though in some cases this condition can appear with no previous indicators.
Chronic fatigue can also cause widespread muscle aches. This is because your body is not getting the rest it needs so daily activities put an excessive amount of stress on the body. You may notice pain in the joints and muscles as well as tender lymph nodes, sore throat or headaches. Women in their 40s and 50s are more susceptible to this condition but it is not currently known what causes chronic fatigue to appear.
Other autoimmune diseases like bursitis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibrositiscan trigger generalized body aches as well.
Neurological or Psychiatric Conditions: Peripheral neuropathy is a common neurological condition that can cause numbness, aches and pains throughout the body. This condition may be more prominent in the hands and feet. This pain is often felt as a burning or tingling sensation. This condition is frequently caused by a traumatic injury to the nervous system or exposure to certain toxins. Diabetes can also cause peripheral neuropathy to appear. Treating the underlying condition may help this condition disappear.
Depression can also cause aches and pains to develop throughout the body. Depression is an overwhelming feeling of sadness or loss of interest. You may have difficulty sleeping, energy loss, feelings of worthlessness, changes in weight or thoughts of suicide. Depression is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. This condition frequently appears when the patient is between the ages of 15-30 and is much more common in women. Medications can be used to artificially raise the chemical levels in the brain to help manage these symptoms.
Somatization disorder is also one of the neurological conditions that can cause general body aches.