It’s bad enough to have a headache or backache. But when literally everything seems to hurt, you’re truly miserable. You can have trouble getting through simple daily activities and may find it hard to get a good night’s sleep. That can make the pain even worse.
The good news is that whole-body pain relief is possible. The first step is finding out what is causing your pain. There are at least 20 different issues that can cause total body pain. Here’s a quick look at a few of them:
- Infections: The flu, pneumonia, or similar illnesses can make you ache all over. Luckily, the pain goes away when the illness does, although you may need medical help to recover from an infection.
- Arthritis: The inflammation from some types of arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis, can cause achy joints throughout your body, which may be accompanied by fatigue as well.
- Statins. Although effective at treating high cholesterol, about 20-30 percent of those who use statins develop muscle and joint aches.
- Lupus. In this autoimmune disorder, your immune system mistakenly attacks your own healthy tissue. The resulting damage and inflammation can cause pain throughout your body.
- Lyme disease. Ticks spread the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. If you’ve been in tick country and your aches come with a rash, see your doctor right away. If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to arthritis, heart palpitations, and other serious problems.
- Fibromyalgia. This condition, which is not well understood, can cause muscles and bones throughout your body to feel tired, tender, and achy. It can also cause insomnia, stiffness, and numb hands and feet.
- Hypothyroidism. When your body doesn’t produce enough thyroid, one of the symptoms can be muscle cramping and stiff joints.
- Opioid–induced hyperalgesia: In some people who have used opioid drugs for a long time to treat pain, the drug can eventually produce the opposite effect, making your body more sensitive to pain.
- Poor circulation. Burning, cramping or other pain during exercise, particularly in the legs or arms, can be a sign that the vessels providing blood to your limbs have narrowed and you’re not getting enough oxygen.
There are probably a dozen other conditions that could cause you to feel widespread pain, so it’s critical to work with a doctor to get to the root of the problem. The most effective treatment will depend on what’s causing your pain. For instance, for a Lyme disease infection, you’ll be given antibiotics, while for rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, you may be prescribed medicine to calm an overactive immune system.
A variety of treatments can help with the pain itself, ranging from ice packs and simple over-the-counter pain relievers to procedures such as steroid injections, nerve blocks, and neuromodulation. Alternative treatments such as acupuncture, meditation, and cognitive behavioral therapy can often help as well.
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