Whether you’re 18 or 80, most of us have experienced aches and pains. It’s pretty clear where some of them come from, like back pain and period pain. However, sometimes we get aches and pains that don’t seem to have an obvious source. Learning more about what causes common aches and pains can help you deal with them.
Pain is your body’s natural way of telling you that something is wrong. There could be many reasons for aches and pains.
Strains and sprains
We often get aches and pains in our muscles following a tough game of sport, or after completing physically demanding tasks at work or at home.
These strains and sprains occur when muscles, joints and ligaments have been used too much, too soon, or too often. Damage to these soft tissues is usually accompanied by inflammation.
Muscle strains and sprains can also be a result of tension or stress, poor sitting and lifting posture. It can also be caused by prolonged and repetitive movements like typing or writing.
It’s tough having to deal with the miserable symptoms of coughs and colds, such as shivering, fever and a sore throat. But your body can also feel achy and sore as a result of infection. These body aches and pains are often described as a dull, continuous pain all over the body.
Muscle pains can be the result of your immune system releasing chemicals into your body to help protect and fight off infection. These chemicals can attach themselves to your nerve endings, which in turn send pain signals to your brain.
More complex problems
Body aches and pains can be the result of complex, long-term problems. For example, in nerve pain (or neuropathic pain), signalling systems in your spinal cord and brain may be damaged. The body interprets the erratic signals as aches, pains and other sensations such as tingling and numbness.
People with a condition called fibromyalgia can experience long-term body aches and pains, fatigue and problems with sleep.
Pain normally works as your body’s early warning system, so it’s helpful to address the source of pain where you can. This could mean changing the layout of your office desk to improve your sitting posture, or to reduce strain on your hands and wrists.
If you already have a muscle strain or sprain:
- Rest that part of the body.
- Take steps to reduce swelling and inflammation in the first few days - follow the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) principle or take a pain reliever, such as Nurofen.
- After the first few days, heat therapy can often feel more soothing
- Try some gentle exercise like walking or swimming
- Treat yourself to a massage to help soothe aching muscles
In most cases, rest, gentle exercise and a healthy diet can go a long way towards a natural recovery. Pain relievers such as Nurofen can help temporarily relieve aches and pains, so that they don’t stop you completely. If you’re over 65 years, taki"ng other medicines, pregnant or breastfeeding, seek advice from your healthcare professional before taking Nurofen”. This is because we mention 80 year olds in the beginning
For some people constant aches could be due to some underlying cause such as an inherited condition, or a long-term medical problem like diabetes or arthritis.
If your pain persists after a couple of days, don't ignore it - visit your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health related matters please contact your doctor.
- Magee K, Schneider S. A.D.A.M. illustrated family health guide. 1st ed. Atlanta, GA: A.D.A.M.; 2006.
- MedlinePlus. Fibromyalgia. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000427.htm. Accessed 26 August 2014.
- RB Health Hub. Types of pain: what is pain? Available at: http://www.rbhealthhub.com.au/programs/pp/pa/pa1/p02-what-is-pain-.html. Accessed 26 August 2014.
This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health related matters, always consult your healthcare professional.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. Incorrect use could be harmful. If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional.