COVID-19 can cause muscle and body aches in some people. However, body aches are a common symptom of many health problems, including musculoskeletal conditions.
COVID-19 can cause several symptoms, including body aches. This can feel like a dull ache in the muscles that may limit mobility or energy.
Keep reading to learn more about body aches as a symptom of COVID-19.
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Body aches can be a symptom of many viral diseases, including COVID-19.
According to data from the ZOE COVID Symptom Study, body aches are typically an early symptom of COVID-19 and can last 2–5 days. They are more likely to last for up to 7–8 days in people aged over 35 years.
The study suggests that around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 will experience body aches and that this symptom is more common in individuals aged 16–65 years than in children or older adults.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date.
Body aches due to COVID-19 typically occur with other symptoms, which may interfere with daily tasks.
The types of symptoms a person experiences may vary by age. For example, adults under 65 years may have headaches with body and muscle aches.
The type and severity of COVID-19 symptoms will vary from person to person.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms typically occur 2–14 days after exposure to the virus.
In addition to body aches, symptoms can include:
The CDC notes that this list includes some but not all possible COVID-19 symptoms.
COVID-19 could cause body aches through inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is the body’s key defense against viruses. However, it can cause some side effects, such as pain, swelling, and difficulty moving. It can also produce more general symptoms when fighting a virus, including fever and tiredness.
Viruses trigger an inflammatory response from the immune system after detection. Inflammation involves a series of complex processes that the body uses to fight infections and other irritants in the body.
There are many possible causes of body aches, including dehydration and taking certain medications, such as statins. Body aches resulting from infections can be due to the body’s immune response to a virus.
However, body aches are very common and have many possible causes. For instance, people could be experiencing body aches from poor posture or intense exercise.
Body aches due to COVID-19 can feel like a dull, aching sensation in the muscles. This sensation could affect one or several body parts and may range from mild to severe.
In the most serious cases, body aches could interfere with or prevent daily activities.
Most people will recover from COVID-19 within 1–2 weeks. However, some symptoms may persist for longer.
The CDC states that post-COVID conditions include a wide range of symptoms and persist for 4 or more weeks. Even people who did not experience symptoms as a result of COVID-19 can have a post-COVID condition.
Potential symptoms of post-COVID conditions include:
Body aches can have a range of different causes other than COVID-19. Anything that leads to inflammation could potentially result in body or muscle aches.
Common causes of inflammation include:
- germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi
- a reaction to chemical irritants or radiation
- diseases whose names end in “-itis,” which indicates an inflammatory condition
- muscle strain
Mild body aches could also result from strain on the muscles. For example, sitting with poor posture, exercising intensely, or repeating certain movements could all lead to body aches in specific areas.
Many causes of body aches are common and could be a more likely explanation than COVID-19.
For instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 1.7 billion people around the world have a musculoskeletal condition. This is a group of conditions that affect the muscles and bones and may cause body aches.
Learn about the differences between bone pain and muscle pain here.
According to the CDC, it is important that anyone with COVID-19 contact a doctor immediately if they have any of the following symptoms:
- trouble breathing
- persistent chest pain
- inability to stay conscious
- pale or blue-colored lips or skin
People who are experiencing persistent body aches for weeks should also contact a doctor. Doctors can help determine whether there is another underlying cause of the body ache.
People with severe body aches that greatly impact mobility should also seek guidance from a medical professional.
Body and muscle aches are a common side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine. They can affect the injection site, but a person may also notice aches in other muscles of the body.
The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective at preventing symptoms of severe disease from the virus. However, it can cause some side effects that will typically go away within a few days.
Some common side effects include:
- pain, flushed skin, and swelling at the site of injection
- body and muscle pains
Learn more about the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine here.
COVID-19 can cause body aches along with several other symptoms. Most people will recover from the disease within a couple of weeks. However, some individuals may experience persistent body and muscle aches.
There are many possible causes of body aches other than COVID-19, such as poor posture or musculoskeletal disease.
People who experience persistent body aches should contact a doctor to determine whether another problem is causing the symptom.