Body aches - what can you do?

Headache and body aches are a nearly inseparable duo with a cold, under which everyone suffers. But body aches can also have other causes. Actively help yourself, so that you can move around pain-free again soon.

What are body aches?

Body aches are pain in the arms or legs. Sometimes they are weak and hardly bother us, at other times they are very strong and violent and affect our everyday life massively. Most of the pain is described as pulling, they develop creepingly. The complaints can occur either only on the legs or the arms or both at the same time.

Body aches may be temporary, for example as a concomitant cold, or have a chronic character - then they often affect only a single limb and indicate a treatment-worthy underlying disease.

What are the causes of body aches?

Body aches occur in a wide variety of diseases, ranging from a simple cold over poisoning to severe disorders of the nervous system. They arise through different mechanisms, affect part of all limbs, sometimes only an arm or a leg and take different lengths.

Most common cause: infections

Most of us know body aches probably in connection with a cold or a flu infection. But also in other infections, such as measles, mumps or TBE, a disease that is transmitted by tick bites, body aches appear.

The pain is caused by the fact that the whole organism fights against the infection and sends out certain pain-causing messengers, eg prostaglandins. In most cases, both arms and legs are affected, after the disappearance of the infection, the pain disappears again.

Body pain as a concomitant symptom

Osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatism are diseases that are more likely to be found in the elderly, but also affect young people. Body aches are an accompanying symptom of these diseases:

  • Osteoarthritis can occur on any joint in the body, preferably on the spine, knees and hands.
  • In gout, especially the legs and ankles are affected.
  • Rheumatism is a generic term for many different diseases, depending on the type of rheumatism bones, cartilage or soft tissues such as muscles or tendons may hurt.

Pain in all extremities

Many women suffer premenstrual syndrome (PMS) presumably due to hormonal imbalance a few days before their menstrual period. In addition to headaches or difficulty concentrating, body aches can also occur.

Likewise, a polyneuropathy can trigger generalized limb pain. This disease can affect all nerves that belong to the peripheral nervous system, so all nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. Causes of polyneuropathy include advanced diabetes mellitus, severe alcohol abuse, severe renal impairment (uremia) or poisoning (eg, by mercury). Often it comes first to a tingling or burning, later then to pain in arms and legs.

Less commonly, Raynaud's syndrome is a circulatory disorder of the hands and feet that causes body aches.

Only the arms hurt

Prolonged pain in the arms indicate neuralgia (nerve pain, eg due to pinching) or neuritis (neuritis) of the brachial plexus; This network of nerves is responsible for the care of our shoulders and arms.

The carpal tunnel syndrome also causes arm pain. In doing so, a certain arm nerve (the median nerve) is damaged by pressure. Pain in the arm also occurs after x-irradiation of the armpit and the lymph nodes contained therein - a treatment used in breast cancer.

Pain only in the legs

If the pain occurs only in the legs, usually the sciatic nerve, the anterior femoral nerve (the femoral nerve) or the lumbar plexus, a network of nerves in the lumbar region of the spine, is the trigger. Damage to these structures can be caused for example by infections, surgery or excessive compression by plaster casts or tumors.

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