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There are many reasons people develop body aches. Some people consider any new ache the result of aging, but many conditions are due to the way we treat our bodies. Repetitive motion and poor posture are both culprits in common aches. Paying more attention to exercise and work habits and monitoring posture can help ease and even prevent many of these issues without medication.

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Neck

Neck pain can quickly develop with no obvious cause. Poor posture is one of the main culprits, and it is easy to slip into bad habits without noticing, especially if you spend a lot of time at the computer, driving, or on your phone.

For neck pain related to poor posture, working with a physical therapist can help you develop better sitting, standing, and work habits. You can ease the pain yourself by using either heat or cold, or alternating between the two, throughout the day. Take a break from whatever you're doing every hour and slowly roll your head in half circles. Some people like to roll their neck all the way around, but be mindful if you do this, and stop if there is any pain or pinching when you tip your head back.

Follow up by bending your neck so your ear comes down toward your shoulder on each side. Finally, look over your shoulder several times in each direction. These stretches don't take more than a few minutes and can ease pain when practices regularly.

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Shoulders

One of the most common causes of pain in the shoulder is a rotator cuff injury. The rotator cuff is made up of tendons and muscles and is responsible for holding the arm in the shoulder joint. Injury creates an ache in the shoulder, which worsens when you try to move the arm away from the body.

Rotator cuff injuries can occur from a single injury or as the result of repetitive stress. By strengthening the muscles in the back of the shoulder and around the shoulder blade, you can help protect this important muscle group.

Mild rotator cuff injuries often heal on their own with rest and cold therapy to reduce inflammation. Working with a physical therapist can help strengthen the supporting muscles and regain range of motion.

More severe cases may benefit from steroid injections to reduce inflammation or surgery to repair the damaged tendons.

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Wrists

Carpal tunnel causes the wrists, forearms, and hands to ache and feel numb. The discomfort can progress to tingling and even numbness. Carpal tunnel syndrome develops when inflammation in the bones and ligaments along the wrist and palm of the hand compress the median nerve. It can develop from repetitive motion, and some people are more susceptible than others due to their unique anatomy.

While surgery is indicated in severe cases, many people find relief from wearing a wrist splint during working hours, taking frequent breaks, and cold therapy. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can provide temporary relief on particularly painful days.

Woman holding wrist Peter Dazeley / Getty Images
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Chest

An ache in the chest can be minor and fleeting, but because problems with the heart and lungs can cause pain in this area, it's important to see a doctor if chest pain lasts more than a few seconds or isn't the cause of a specific movement. A feeling of heaviness, the sensation of something squeezing the chest, or pain that is different than anything experienced before should be discussed with a medical professional. Additionally, when pain or discomfort radiates into the arm, jaw, or shoulder, or causes shortness of breath, nausea, or dizziness talk to a physician promptly. People with a history of heart disease should see a doctor regardless of the symptom.

Less serious aches are often the result of new or different exercise or physical activity. Muscles in the chest that aren't used frequently in day to day life can become sore from a sudden increase in activity. Rest, mindful movements, and applying warmth by soaking in a tub or other methods, can help ease discomfort.

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Upper back

Much like neck pain, pain in the upper back is often the result of poor posture. Sitting at a desk with your arms forward and your head down, which is the position in which many of us spend our days, can overstretch the muscles in the upper back, creating anything from a dull ache to sharp pain.

Taking frequent breaks can help ease aches caused by poor posture. Getting up and walking around is best, but even taking the time to look away from the computer screen and rolling the shoulders forward and back a few times is beneficial.

Arranging your workstation so that it is as ergonomic as possible can help relieve many pains. When seated, ensure the feet touch the floor, your shoulders are relaxed away from the shoulders, and the mouse and keyboard are within easy reach. From this vantage, adjust the monitor so the eyes meet the top of it. However, even with the perfect set-up, it is still vital to get up regularly to move around.

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Lower back

Aches in the lower back may be the result of a bulging or ruptured disc or a symptom of osteoarthritis. Spinal stenosis — a type of arthritis that causes the space around the spinal cord to narrow and put pressure on the nerves — can also cause lower back pain.

It is also common for the ache or pain to be the result of ligament or muscle strain. These often develop in people who overwork their backs with exercises their body is not used to or not warmed up for. One example is spending the day lifting heavy boxes when moving house.

Treatment for lower back pain often includes light activity such as walking and stretching. If the symptoms don't improve within a month or so, a doctor may prescribe medication. Physical therapy can also strengthen the surrounding muscles and help return proper range of motion.

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Glutes

Piriformis syndrome is a common cause of aching in the glutes. The condition can develop from prolonged sitting, vigorous exercise, or anatomy issues. Piriformis syndrome responds well to stretching and strengthening exercises as well as heat therapy. Occasionally, local anesthetic or corticosteroid injections are used to ease pain in the area in severe cases.

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Thighs

Pain in the thighs may be the result of meralgia paresthetica, which is caused by pressure on the large nerve in the leg. The pain may feel achy, cause a tingling sensation, create numbness, or even cause burning pain.

While this is an uncomfortable condition, it often subsides on its own. Some people experience good results by losing excess weight or wearing looser clothing. Others may require pain relievers during periods of particular discomfort.

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Calves

Aches in the calf muscles often develop from dehydration, during exercise, or if electrolyte levels are imbalanced. The ache often goes away as quickly as it developed. Signs that the sensation indicates something more serious include pain that comes on suddenly, trouble standing on the toes, bruising on the calf muscle, or weakness when walking.

Drinking plenty of fluids and stretching, both during the day and after workouts, should help ease calf aches. If the ache becomes more severe, your legs begin to swell, or the area becomes warm or red, you should contact your healthcare provider.

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Feet

Aching, burning, tingling, or numbness in your feet may be the result of Morton's neuroma. This condition develops when the tissue surrounding the nerves in the toes thickens, putting pressure on the nerve. Frequently wearing high heels or ill-fitting shoes can cause the condition. Serious cases can require surgery, but many people find relief by switching to comfortable, supportive footwear.

Woman wearing high heels Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.