Body pain or body aches are a common phenomena. Almost everyone experiences some kind of a pain once in a while. Body pain generally results from tiredness, fatigue, mental or physical stress, or can be a result of other underlying health conditions. While body pains are not severe and disappear within a few days of rest, keep a check if you experience body pain very often. 

To understand and identify body pain, you will first need to look at the causes, symptoms, and types of body pain. 

Causes of Body Pain

Body pain is triggered by various factors and can vary in intensity, frequency and duration - from a low intensity to a sharp pain or an intermittent pain (pain that stops or ceases for some time and starts again). Body pain can be acute or chronic. 

  • Acute pain is of short duration and lasts anywhere from 3 to 6 months

  • Chronic pain is ongoing and lasts longer than 6 months

The possible causes of body pain include:

1. Fever and infections like the common cold and the flu can cause body aches. During an infection, your immune system is at work, resulting in inflammation, leaving your body feeling weak and thus, you experience pain. 

When inflammation occurs, chemicals from your white blood cells (WBCs) enter your blood or tissues to protect your body from foreign substances (invaders). As a result, the blood flow to the area of injury or infection increases. This causes redness, warmth, and swelling, known as inflammation.

2. Starting a new exercise routine or ramping up your existing workout regime. This happens because your muscles and bones are made to work more than their usual capacity, resulting in soreness and stiffness, leading to body pain.

3. Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition that causes pain throughout the body. Fibromyalgia is nothing but widespread muscle pain, accompanied by fatigue, poor sleep, and an irritable mood. 

4. Fluid retention (a condition in which excess fluids build up inside your body) can result in general muscular aches. Fluid retention causes your muscles to swell and press on the nerves, resulting in sharp pains and cramps.

5. Hectic and stressful lifestyles can also cause body pain. Stress, unhealthy diet, disturbed sleep and a sedentary lifestyle causes tiredness and pains.

6. Low potassium levels (Hypokalemia) affects your nerve and muscle function, resulting in weakness, fatigue and body pain. 

7. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a long-term illness in which you experience extreme fatigue due to lack of sleep, and this condition can cause or worsen existing body pains.

Symptoms Associated With Body Pain

Symptoms associated with most forms of body pain include:

  • Muscle tenderness

  • Swelling

  • Morning stiffness

  • Weakness

  • Headaches

  • Nausea

  • Numbness

  • Difficulty or discomfort in sitting, standing or sleeping

Common Pains Around The Body

Are you one of those people who experience back pain on one day and shoulder or neck pain on the other? If yes, then read on to find more about each of these types of common body pains!

1. Back Pain: Any pain or discomfort that stems from the back or the spine is known as back pain, or commonly known as lower back pain. 

Back pain is not a disorder nor a symptom of an underlying problem.

  • It is generally a result of physical stress, wrong sitting or standing posture, injury to the muscles or joints, sprains or a strain.

  • Back pain can cause a feeling of a burning sensation or that of shooting pain in your body.

  • Acute lower back pain can last for a few days to about 4 weeks. Chronic back pain continues for around twelve weeks or more.

  • Back pain can be treated with simple lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise and enough rest. In case you have severe or constant pain, check with your doctor immediately.

2. Neck Pain: Pain that starts in the neck and radiates down to one or both your arms is known as neck pain. It is a common complaint among the young population and is caused either due to age, injury, poor posture, prolonged use of electronic devices such as mobile phones and laptops, or diseases such as arthritis (inflammation of one or more joints in the neck, causing pain and stiffness). 

  • Common symptoms of neck pain include numbness, tightness, difficulty in a range of movements, etc.

  • It can also lead to headaches, shoulder pain, facial pain and to make things worse, it can be accompanied by upper/lower back pain.

  • Treatment options include physiotherapy, heat or cold pack applications, topical analgesics (creams, rubs, sprays and gels), muscle relaxants and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.

  • You should be aware of your posture, especially if you have a desk job that requires working on a desktop/laptop for long periods. Practice easy-to-do neck exercises (can be done while sitting on your work chair) on a daily basis to prevent neck pain.

3. Shoulder Pain: Pain that stems from your shoulder blade or your upper outer arm is known as shoulder pain. 

Shoulder pain is common among working professionals and should not be ignored if you have it too often.

  • Shoulder pain is generally caused by an injury to your shoulder, fracture in the upper arm bone, dislocation of shoulder joints, pain in the neck that radiates to your shoulder, or strain from overexertion.

  • Injury/fracture or dislocation can lead to inflammation, which can cause your shoulder to become red, hot, swollen, and painful.

  • It is usually diagnosed with an X-ray or an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

  • Painkillers are the first line of treatment for shoulder pain. Application of local gels and relaxants are also used to get relief from shoulder pain.

4. Knee Pain: Pain in and around the knee is called knee pain. Knee pain results from a sprain, an injury in the knee joint, or from constant stress on the knee joints. It can be the main symptom of arthritis of the knee. It can be associated with age-related factors as well.

  • Knee pain results in the inability to straighten the knee, due to swelling and stiffness. There are often popping or crunching noises when you have severe knee pain.

  • Knee pain diagnosis requires a physical examination and tests such as an X-ray or an MRI.

  • Avoid knee injuries to avoid knee pain. Do low-impact exercises or swimming or jogging every day to avoid knee pain in the long run. 

Ways to Manage Body Pain

Body pain in one form or the other is becoming a part of everyday life. Treating body pains with simple preventive tips and topical analgesics is the best way to get rid of your pain. Mild to moderate body pain can be treated with the following tips, while certain severe and prolonged ones might require medical intervention.

1.  Topical preparations for pain relief. Topical analgesics are medications that are applied to the body (on the skin) to treat painful joints and muscles. 

They come in handy for the treatment of all types of body pain.

  • They are available as OTC medications in the form of creams, foams, gels, lotions, ointments, and anti inflammatory drugs.

  • The active ingredient in most topical analgesics is a nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, or diclofenac. The active-ingredient targets inflammation, which contributes to pain, swelling, and stiffness.

  • Topical analgesics can be applied two to four times a day for mild to moderate pain.

  • Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after use to avoid the drug from entering into your eyes, nose, mouth, or other mucous membranes.

IUG (Iodex Ultragel) is often recommended for relieving muscle and body pain. Iodex Ultragel contains Diclofenac Diethylamine, a non-steroidal anti inflammatory drug with emulgel formulation. The emulgel formula helps the gel to penetrate deep into the skin to enhance the effect of diclofenac on the site of pain. 

IUG speeds up recovery and is effective for different types of musculoskeletal pains like neck/shoulder pain, back pain, joint pain, arthritis, sprain, etc.

Consult your doctor before using topical analgesics for body pain.

2. Try cold therapy. Ice is effective in reducing inflammation and pain in the joints, even among arthritis patients. When you apply a cold compress, the nerve impulses in the affected body part slow down and relieves or eliminates pain.

  • You can buy an ice gel pack or a ready cold compress from your local pharmacy.

  • You can make your own cold compress at home. Wrap three or four ice cubes in a small towel and apply to the affected area.

  • Non-medicated coolant sprays can help in reducing swelling and provide relief from pain.

3. Massage with mustard oil. A body massage with warm mustard oil can help relieve pain. 

Mustard oil contains a compound called allyl isothiocyanate which reduces inflammation in the body. 

  • Warm a cup of mustard oil on a low flame. Massage your entire body with the warm oil and leave it on the body for at least 10 minutes before taking a warm shower.

You can do this remedy once or twice a week. Before trying out this remedy, make sure you are not allergic to mustard oil.

4. Exercise to relieve sore muscles and body pain. Simple stretching exercises of the neck and the shoulders can keep you away from body pain. 

Exercising regularly keeps your joints and muscles strong and healthy and reduces the chances of inflammation. 

  • Do neck rotation exercises while sitting at your work desk for about 10 to 15 minutes a day to reduce the strain on your neck and shoulder muscles.

  • Yoga asanas (poses or postures) are a great way to maintain your back/spine health and prevent back pain.

  • Gentle stretching of your knee can support your knee health. Some movement is better than no movement to get instant relief from knee pain. 

5. Have a warm bath. Heat is effective in improving blood circulation, which can help sore or tight muscles to relax.

Make sure not to exert yourself while doing exercises to relieve back, neck, shoulder, or knee pain. If you experience frequent body pains, consult a physician before you follow any exercise routine.

Remember that making certain lifestyle modifications (proper stress management, healthy diet, ample amounts of rest, and exercising regularly) can help prevent body pains to a large extent. 

Always keep a topical analgesic handy in case of an emergency. If you or your loved ones suffer from frequent or chronic body pain, talk to your doctor immediately.


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4.. Rudin, N.J. Topical Analgesics for Chronic Pain. Curr Phys Med Rehabil Rep 1, 315–321 (2013).

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