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Body Pain: Causes and Symptoms

Body pain is very common. It can result from tiredness or exercise, but also it can be a symptom of underlying condition. Body pain is usually harmless, but it is helpful to understand what is the cause for it and when to seek medical attention. Also, body pains can vary in frequency and intensity. A person can describe the body pain as a dull but persistent pain, intermittent pain or a sharp pain. In many cases, people can identify and treat body aches without seeing a doctor. But, in some cases, they need help.

whole body pain

Body pain signs and symptoms

If the body pain is happening due to a medical condition, the affected person can experience other symptoms as well. It is very important to recognize other signs, because this can help a person to identify and decide whether they should see a doctor. Some of the most common symptoms which happen alongside the body pain are next:

  • Cold and flu – like symptoms
  • Shivers or changes in the body temperature
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pain in a specific part of the body

Body pain causes

Body pain can happen due to many different reasons. Most of them are easily treatable and relatively harmless. But, in some cases, body aches can be caused by more serious medical conditions. Possible causes of body pain include:

  • Medications: Some drugs and medicines, such as blood pressure medications and statins, have side effects which make the body feel achy, stiff and sore [1]. Also, withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and certain drugs, including opiates and cocaine, can also have a similar effect. [2]
  • Infections and viruses: The common cold, the flu and other bacterial or viral infections can cause body aches. When these infections happen, then the immune system sends white blood cells to fight off the infection. This can result in inflammation and this leaves muscles in the body feeling stiff and achy. [3]
  • Fibromyalgia: Muscle stiffness, pain and fatigue are all symptoms of fibromyalgia, which is a long – term condition that is causing aches and pains throughout the body. Fibromyalgia can result from the way the central nervous system processes pain messages when they happen in the body. [4]
  • Pneumonia: This is a lung infection which can be very dangerous without treatment. It can result in an inability to get enough oxygen into the body. Without oxygen, tissues and red blood cells in the body are not able to function properly and this can cause pains and aches. [5]
  • Lack of sleep: Scientists think that there is a two – way link between pain and sleep. People who have chronic pain often find it hard to sleep. Also, it has been found that people with insomnia often experience chronic pain. As the time passes, not getting enough sleep can lead to exhaustion. This can make your body feel heavy, sluggish and achy. Also, lack of sleep can affect the body’s ability to repair tissues and cells. When your body does not have sufficient time to repair and recuperate, then you can experience aches and pains more frequently. [6]
  • Dehydration: It is very important to stay hydrated, so you will keep the functioning of your body well. Also, dehydration can cause a person to feel sore and tired. [7]
  • Hypokalemia: This condition is happening when a person has low potassium in their bloodstream. Low potassium can affect the way muscles and nerves function and this can result in muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness and body aches.
  • Fluid retention: When your body retains fluid, then inflammation and swelling can develop and this is resulting in general muscular aches and pains. Also, the affected person can experience sharp and localized pains and cramps. Some conditions which can lead to fluid retention include: problems with lymphatic drainage, venous insufficiency, chronic kidney and nephritic syndrome, severe malnutrition, cirrhosis of the liver, congestive heart failure and thyroid problems, especially an underactive thyroid. [8]
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome: A person who has chronic fatigue syndrome can experience muscular aches in addition to weakness, exhaustion and insomnia in a similar way to a person who does not get enough sleep.


[1] McMaster University. New study may have the reason why heart medication gives muscle pain. Science Daily. 2019. Retrieved from

[2] National Institute on Drug Abuse. Heroin DrugFacts. Retrieved from

[3] Widyadharma PE, Dewi PR, Wijayanti IAS, Utami DKI. Pain related viral infections: a literature review. Egyptian Journal of Neurology, Psychiatry and Neurosurgery. 2020;56(1):105. doi:10.1186/s41983-020-00238-4

[4] Clauw DJ, Arnold LM, McCarberg BH. The science of fibromyalgia. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2011;86(9):907–11. doi:10.4065/mcp.2011.0206

[5] Armeni E, Myloni V, Karlis G, Makrygiannis E. Pneumonia presenting with lower right abdominal pain and migratory polyarthritis. Respiratory Medicine Case Reports. 2012;5:29–30. doi:10.1016/j.rmedc.2011.11.001

[6] Medic G, Wille M, Hemels MEH. Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nature and Science of Sleep. 2017;9:151–61. doi:10.2147/NSS.S134864

[7] Lau WY, Kato H, Nosaka K. Water intake after dehydration makes muscles more susceptible to cramp but electrolytes reverse that effect. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine. 2019;5:e000478. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000478

[8] Arora A, Rajesh S, Bansal K, et al. Cirrhosis-related musculoskeletal disease: radiological review. British Journal of Radiology. 2016;89(1066):20150450. doi:10.1259/bjr.20150450

Elene Jordanova
Elene Jordanova
Elena Jordanova is a medical researcher from Macedonia with specialization in Internal Medicine


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