What Are the Causes of Aches & Pains?

Vaccines commonly cause temporary aches and pains.
Vaccines commonly cause temporary aches and pains. (Image: Jeffrey Hamilton/Lifesize/Getty Images)

The human body often communicates through signals called aches and pains. It uses signals to warn of existing problems or possible problems about to occur. Causes of aches and pains are virtually endless, occurring anywhere in the human body. Unexplainable aches and pains that continue longer than three days require medical attention. It is important to listen when your body speaks.


Aches and pains involving muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia and soft tissues frequently result from tension, overuse and injury. Strenuous activities, such as sports and exercise, often cause muscles and surrounding tissues to tighten, cramp and spasm. Massaging and stretching the muscles helps to reduce muscle aches and pains caused by injury. Dehydration also causes aches and pains throughout the body. Avoid this by drinking plenty of water before, during and after strenuous activities.

Viruses and Infection

Illnesses, such as the flu, cause aches and pain throughout the body. Influenza-affected cells product high levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, resulting in body aches. The virus causes tissue damage by attacking nerve endings, resulting in all-over body aches and pains. Pro-inflammatory cytokines, along with free radicals, induce cell-driven inflammation. Increases in cytokines result from degenerative diseases and poor diet, as well as illness.

Growing Pains

Children between the ages of 3 and 5 and 8 and 12 experience a variety of growing pains, although it is unknown if bone growth actually causes pain. Aches and pains among children typically occur in muscles rather than bones and respond well to heat and massage. A diagnosis of growing pains results from exclusion of other possible causes. A child who does not want to be touched due to an increase in pain should receive medical attention. Growing pains do not occur every day; seek medical attention if this is the case.


More than 100 types of arthritis cause pain, inflammation and joint stiffness. Two major types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis produces centralized pain caused by joint degeneration. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the entire body by producing various aches and pains along with flu-like symptoms. The cause of the disease is unknown but suspected to be genetic and typically occurs when the immune system is not working properly. Other diseases, such as lupus, cause inflammation, swelling and pain. With lupus, the immune system attacks body tissues, resulting in fatigue, joint pain, fever and rash.

Medical Treatments

Many medical treatments and medications cause general side effects, including body aches and pains. Aches and pains are a normal response to vaccines, such as influenza and tetanus. Medical treatments and medications, such as acupressure and chemotherapy, often result in temporary aches and pains throughout the body. Side effects subside once the treatment or medication ceases.

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