Body Pain

Body pain is defined as a highly unpleasant physical sensation that may be the result of an illness or injury. This unpleasant sensation is triggered by the nervous system and may occur suddenly or gradually depending on factors such as the individual’s emotional state or their surrounding environment. Body pain is a common symptom of many conditions. One common example is the flu which causes the body to ache. Besides medical problems, body pain can be a result of basic everyday activities such as standing, walking, or exercising for long periods of time.

It can then be hard to know when you should worry about the body pain you’re feeling and when it’s from something minor that just requires some rest to get you back to normal. Aches that lost a long time are usually something to worry about as they may be the result of an underlying condition. In this case, a visit to the doctor will be necessary to determine an accurate diagnosis. Since pain cannot be quantified, it can be difficult to communicate to someone else the extent of the pain you’re feeling in order for them to determine if it is a cause of concern. This is where tools like the McGill Pain Index come in. This is a scientific pain scale, designed to help patients quantify their pain. It works hand in hand with a questionnaire and a complex scoring system that gives an overall score of the pain described out of 50.

Body pain charts were introduced as part of the McGill Pain Questionnaire. These body pain charts include front and back views of the whole body, a pain intensity rating from 0 to 10, several options for types of pain, and also duration of pain. The patient can communicate better to the doctor the exact location of their body pain as well as the intensity, type, and duration of the pain felt.  On the charts, the pain can be described as aching, dull, throbbing, sharp, burning, numbness, tingling, shooting, or radiating. With regards to duration of pain, the patient can tick the relevant option such as constant, most of time, comes and goes, once in a while, or hardly ever.

Body Pain Types

In general, there are two types of body pain which are acute body pain and chronic body pain.

Acute Body Pain

This type of pain usually results from an illness or painful event such as an injury or surgery. Acute body pain typically occurs suddenly and may gradually diminish on its own or after medical treatment. The intensity of acute body pain ranges from mild to severe, with duration from a few weeks to several months. With proper treatment, acute body pain can subside within six months. If acute pain is not treated, it may advance to chronic body pain. 

Chronic Body Pain

This second type of body pain is described as that which persists over time with no apparent cause. Chronic body pain can even remain long after an injury has healed or an illness has subsided. The intensity of chronic body pain is such that the affected individual may find it debilitating, resulting in loss of sleep, and inability to function normally. Chronic body pain can last for any duration from weeks to years. 

Body Pain Causes

Body pain is a common occurrence and the causes can vary from something as simple as tiredness or something more critical like an underlying medical condition. Some of the common causes of body pain are explained below:

1.      Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a medical condition often triggered by stressful events such as physical trauma, surgery, and infections. The medical condition is long-term and causes aches and pains throughout the body. Besides body pain, fibromyalgia patients may also experience trouble sleeping, sensitivity to light or sound, stiffness, memory troubles, and tingling sensations in the hands and feet.

2.      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

An individual with CFS may experience muscular aches in addition to insomnia, exhaustion, and weakness.

3.      Arthritis

This medical condition occurs when the joints become inflamed as a result of the cartilage around the joints breaking down, infection in a joint, or autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis that wear away the lining around the joints.

4.      Pneumonia

This is a lung infection that can affect the entire respiratory system which is responsible for breathing, sweating, and other important functions. When the respiratory system is affected and an individual can’t breathe well, the body won’t get enough oxygen to keep the red blood cells and tissues healthy. This in turn can cause body pain and aches.

5.      Lack of sleep

The recommended amount of sleep is 6 to 8 hours every night, including the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The overall health of an individual can be affected by not getting enough sleep because the body’s tissues and cells need proper sleep to stay healthy, and the brain needs the same to stay refreshed and alert. Without enough sleep, the body doesn’t get enough time to rest and replenish essential energies and processes, which can then lead to pain.

6.      Hypokalaemia

An individual with this condition is said to have low potassium in their bloodstream. Potassium is vital for proper function of nerves and muscles. If an individual has low levels of potassium in their body, this affects the function of those two and may result in body pain, aches, weakness, fatigue, and muscle cramps.

7.      Fluid retention

Retention of fluids in the body may lead to swelling and inflammation, which in turn cause muscular aches and body pains. Fluid retention may result from conditions such as thyroid problems, congestive heart failure, venous insufficiency, and severe malnutrition.

8.      Autoimmune disorders

Some autoimmune disorders such as Lupus, myositis, and multiple sclerosis (MS) can cause body aches. In patients with Lupus, their immune system begins to attack healthy tissues and this results in inflammation and body pain. Myositis is an inflammation of the muscles which can cause body pain in the affected individual. Multiple Sclerosis affects the central nervous system and individuals affected by the condition feel body pain and aches as a result of persistent inflammation which causes the breakdown of tissues surrounding their nerve cells.

9.      Anaemia

This medical condition results when the body lacks enough properly functioning red blood cells which means the body tissues don’t get enough oxygen. As a result, the body feels fatigued and the affected individual experiences body pains in the head or chest because they’re not getting enough oxygen to remain healthy or to function properly.

10.  Infections and viruses

Infections such as the flu, common cold, and other viral or bacterial infections can cause body pain because when such infections occur, the immune system reacts by releasing white blood cells to fight off the infection. Inflammation can result from this, leaving the muscles in the body feeling achy and stiff.

11.  Vitamin D deficiency

A low blood calcium level, also known as Hypocalcemia results from not having enough Vitamin D in the body. Calcium is important for the proper function of vital organs like kidneys and muscles, plus for keeping bones healthy. The lack of Vitamin D to help with absorption of calcium results in aching in these organs and in the bones.

12.  Lyme disease

The spread of the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi throughout the body through a tick bite causes Lyme disease. A common symptom of this disease is aches in the muscles and joints.

13.  Histoplasmosis

This is a fungal infection caused by airborne spores from the soil or droppings of bats or birds. Body pain and aches, chills, fever, and headaches are common symptoms of the medical condition.

14.  Stress

Due to stress, the immune system has difficulties in controlling its response to inflammation. A malfunctioning immune system means the body can’t fight off infections or sickness as it normally would be able to. As a result, stress may lead to body pain and aches as the body becomes more susceptible to inflammation and infection throughout.

15.  Medications

Side effects from drugs such as statins and blood pressure medications may make the body feel sore, achy, and stiff. Body pains from medications may also occur as a result of withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and certain drugs such as cocaine and opiates.

16.  Dehydration

Without water, the body won’t be able to perform many of its important processes properly, such as breathing and digestion. Physical pain may result from this; as well as exhaustion, dizziness or disorientation.

Body Pain Symptoms

Body pain resulting from a medical condition may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms. Identifying these can help an individual experiencing body pain pinpoint the cause and make the decision to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and any necessary treatment. Some of the common symptoms that occur alongside body pain include:

  • Body pain on left side or body pain on right side
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Shivers or changes in body temperature
  • Cold and flu-like symptoms

Body Pain Prevention

Whether the patient complains of body pain left side or body pain right side, the pain may be reduced or prevented by following a proper diet, managing weight, and increasing muscle flexibility and strength through exercise and physical conditioning. Low-impact physical activities such as walking or swimming can also help prevent body pain by increasing strength, flexibility, and endurance. The following can also help prevent body pain and promote an overall healthy body:

  • Maintaining good posture while sitting and standing
  • Lifting heavy objects by using legs and not the back
  • Carrying heavy objects close to the body and turning with the legs instead of the waist to change direction
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Sleeping on the side with knees bent.

Body Pain Treatment

Acute body pain usually stops on its own or after body pain treatment. Knowing whether to wait it out or see a doctor can be difficult. A visit to the doctor may be necessary if an individual experiences the following:

  • Persistent pain that does not improve with home remedies
  • Severe pain with no apparent cause
  • Body pain or aches that occur with a rash
  • Body pain and aches following a tick bite
  • Body aches or muscular pain accompanied by severe redness or swelling
  • Body pain resulting from the use of a particular medication
  • Persistent fever
  • Severe fluid retention
  • Difficulties in swallowing, eating, or drinking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting accompanied by a high temperature or fever
  • Visual problems and sensitivity to light
  • Fainting or loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

A doctor will assess the symptoms and prescribe the appropriate treatment, if necessary, for any underlying condition causing the body pain. There are also home remedies that one can try to help with managing body pain. If the body pain persists for more than 2 weeks and the cause of the pain is unknown, a doctor should be consulted even if the above-mentioned symptoms don’t occur.

Body pain home remedies

  • Resting to give the body time to repair and recuperate
  • Drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and help ease the achiness and body pain caused by dehydration
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen or aspirin to reduce pain and inflammation
  • The heat from a warm bath can help relax the muscles and ease tension in the body
  • Regulating temperature by reducing a fever, keeping warm, or staying cool to lessen shivering and prevent the muscles from seizing up
  • Light activity can help with pain management
  • Applying ice or a cold compress to the painful body parts for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day can help to make spasms and acute body pain subside
  • Hot compresses can loosen tight muscles

If the body pain is mild and improves over time, most of these home remedies such as rest, rehydration, and over-the-counter treatment will usually help reduce or eliminate the pain. However, in the case of persistent or frequent body pain occurring along with other symptoms such as those mentioned above, a doctor should be consulted for proper diagnosis and treatment.