Diseases & Conditions

What Does It Mean When Your Whole Body Aches?

Reveiwed By Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD on 6/11/2019


Body aches have a wide variety of causes.

Why Does My Whole Body Ache?

An aching body makes every activity more difficult, from getting through your daily grind to going to sleep at night. Sometimes our bodies ache from hard work or exercise, but at other times the causes of muscle aches can be more complex and associated with other symptoms. If you or someone you know has been suffering from body aches, this guide can help you understand some of the underlying problems that may be causing it. From arthritis to fibromyalgia to the common flu, there are many underlying causes of body aches, so read on to learn what they are, as well as a few tips for easing whole-body aches.


When your body fights the flu, it releases chemicals that cause body aches.


Influenza, also known simply as the flu, is a viral infection. It infects the lungs, nose, and throat, and produces several familiar symptoms. One of these is body aches.


Why Does the Flu Cause Soreness?

When you’re aching all over and you have the flu, there’s a reason. Your body aches because it is releasing chemicals to help fight off the infection. One of the chemicals produced by your immune system is called prostaglandin (PG). PG helps your body fight the infection, but it also causes body aches. It can bring on other symptoms like fever, too.


Aspirin and other non-steroidal pain relievers like ibuprofen can alleviate body aches and fever when you have a flu because they interfere with the production of PG. The enzyme that produces PG resembles a crystal with a tube through the middle. Aspirin and ibuprofen plug up the tube, stopping the production of PG.


Hypothyroidism can bring on intense body pain.

Thyroid Problems

If you suffer from hypothyroidism, body aches can be the first symptoms you experience. Hypothyroidism is the disorder that occurs when a person’s body is not producing enough thyroid hormone. This can have several symptoms, and among these are muscle cramping, aching, stiff joints, and body aches. Sometimes the aching is vague and nonspecific.


Biochemical hypothyroidism is relatively common in the United States, affecting an estimated 4.6% of the population. The good news is that this thyroid problem is treatable with prescription drugs, which can restore your hormone level to normal and will help relieve fatigue and aches. These medications need to be taken throughout life, and they can prevent dangerous consequences of the condition, which on the extreme side can include coma and death.


Claudication can make your legs ache and burn.

Poor Circulation

If you notice your legs aching after a walk, it could be a circulation problem. Claudication (typically, obstruction of an artery) causes burning, cramping, or pain in one or both legs that is relieved after resting. It is caused by atherosclerosis, a condition that narrows and hardens the arteries through plaque buildup.


People diagnosed with this condition may be put on medication or recommended to walk more frequently, as well as to stop smoking and reduce saturated fats from their diets. There are minimally invasive treatments as well, including angioplasty, stents, and more. Surgical treatments may be necessary if symptoms are severe.


Lupus can cause your joints and tendons to swell, causing pain.


The aching you feel in your joints may be related to the autoimmune disease known as lupus. Lupus causes your immune system to attack healthy tissues, which can make you ache all over. During a bout of lupus, your body becomes inflamed throughout. Part of the inflammation process involves a thickening of the lining around your joints. This makes your joints and tendons swell and causes body aches.


Some lupus patients describe this agony as being similar to arthritis. Unlike arthritis, though, lupus usually does not cause permanent damage to your bones and joints.


The first line of defense for this type of discomfort is over-the-counter medicine. Anti-inflammatory painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen can bring relief. Heating pads and warm baths and showers can also ease stiff joints.


The stiffness and swelling of arthritis causes body pain.


One out of every four American adults has arthritis, one of the most common causes of chronic pain. Arthritis is a catch-all diagnosis that includes more than 100 diseases affecting joints and muscles.


The most common of these is osteoarthritis, which slowly breaks down the bones and cartilage that make up one or more joints. Along with body aches, osteoarthritis causes stiffness, swelling, and limits the movements of the joints it impacts


There are ways to manage arthritis. Some of these include medication, weight loss, and exercising in appropriate ways. Education is available through the arthritis self-management program, which was developed by Stanford School of Medicine and is of