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What are Body Pains and How to Treat Them

  • Most of us will experience aches and pains, such as back ache, in the body [1]
  • The older or fatter we get and the less exercise we do, then it’s more likely that we’re going to feel the odd twinge or two [1].
  • Here’s some information about what pain feels like, causes of pain and treatments for body pain, so you can find relief.

At some point in our lives, most of us will experience aches and pains, such as back ache, in the body.1 In a survey in 2007, almost one in five Irish people said they had a pain in their muscles, joints, neck or back in the past week that affected their ability to do everyday activities.1* These are known as musculoskeletal conditions and the older or fatter we get and the less exercise we do, then it’s more likely that we’re going to feel the odd twinge or two.1


Back Pain

Back pain is the most common musculoskeletal pain, usually affecting the lower back.1,2 In fact, lower back problems are the top health condition reported in the Irish Health Survey, affecting 19% of the population in 2015.3 60–85% of us will experience it at least once in our lifetime.1

You might also have to be a bit patient as it can take a while to clear up: around 90% of people with low back pain were better within 6 weeks but between 2-7% develop longer-term backache.4

Common causes of back pain include:4,5

  • Sprains and strains
  • A slipped disc
  • Sciatica – irritation of the nerve that runs between the feet and the pelvis.

Less common causes include osteoporosis, infections and inflammatory causes such as ankylosing spondylitis. 1,4

For most people with back pain, however, there is no underlying cause that can be found.4,5
If you do heavy physical or repetitive work, often have to bend, lift or twist, or suffer from depression or anxiety, then you are more likely to develop back pain.4

Knee and Hip Pain

Pain in the knee can be due to a number of different causes, including sprains, tears, sports injuries, osteoarthritis and, in some cases, fractures.1,6,7 Although pain is a common symptom that something is not quite right with your knee, you can have other symptoms too, including:1,6,8

  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Stiffness – if this is due to osteoarthritis, you’ll find this usually gets better after resting
  • Difficulty moving your knee or straightening your leg
  • Feeling that your knee joint is unstable and won’t take your weight
  • Muscle spasm.

In most cases, knee pain will improve but if you have osteoarthritis, it’s a long-term, chronic condition.8

Hip pain can also have a variety of causes, including sprains, strains and osteoarthritis.9 Sometimes it might even be problem that starts in another part of your body, like your back;9 this is what is known as referred pain.

Symptoms of hip problems include:8,9

  • Pain in the groin area or front of the hip suggest it’s a problem with the hip joint itself
  • Pain in the buttock or hamstring are more likely due to muscle strains or pinched nerves
  • Feeling gradually less mobile can indicate osteoarthritis of the hip.

Depending on the underlying cause of your knee or hip pain there are different ways it can be managed – and prevent further damage.


Shoulder and Neck Pain

Shoulder pain can be caused by a wide range of different conditions.10 Depending on the underlying cause you might feel a sudden extreme pain, pain on the top of your shoulder or that is made worse when you use your arm or shoulder or your shoulder feels as though it is locking or clicking.10

Shoulder pain is a symptom of some other condition, such as:10

  • Frozen shoulder, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, which can cause persistent pain and stiffness
  • Bursitis or tendonitis could be the cause if your pain is worse when you use your arm or shoulder
  • Shoulder instability, which can sometimes be the result of hypermobility. In addition to pain, you might also feel some tingling or numbness, your shoulder feels weak or that it clicks or locks
  • A dislocated shoulder, fracture or ruptured tendon causes sudden severe pain where it’s hard to move your arm – you might also notice it’s changed shape too
  • Stretched or torn ligaments, which can cause pain on the top of the shoulder where the joint meets the collarbone.

Unfortunately, you might have to live with shoulder pain for some time as some causes, such as frozen shoulder and osteoarthritis, can cause pain lasting for months or years.10

Neck pain is one the of the most common types of body pain.11 Common causes of neck pain include poor posture, injury (such as whiplash), a pinched nerve or even getting it stuck in an odd position while you sleep.12

In addition to pain, you might also experience:11

  • Headache
  • Difficulty moving your neck and body.

As with other musculoskeletal problems, neck pain can take a few weeks to get better.12



Around 915,000 people in Ireland live with arthritis and one of the most common types is osteoarthritis.13 This a long-term condition that mainly develops over the age of 40.8

Osteoarthritis affects the joints and is more common in the spine and the weight-bearing joints, such as hips, knees and ankles.8 Your hands and wrists may also be affected, although it is less common in the elbow and shoulder joints.8 You may have symptoms that fluctuate or progress over time; these include:8

  • Pain that gets worse with exercise or at the end of the day
  • Stiffness that gets better after resting but you might find your joint is less mobile than it used to be
  • Joints that crack or creak when you move them
  • Joints that ‘give way’
  • Your joints may also look swollen.

You’re at more risk of developing osteoarthritis if you are older, have had a joint injury, have a family history of arthritis or are overweight (this puts extra strain on joints such as the hip or knee).8

Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are many things you can do to help you manage your symptoms and stay mobile.8

You should discuss any symptoms that are of concern with your doctor so that you can be appropriately advised and get the relevant medication to manage your symptoms if required.


Sprains and strains

Sprains and strains are caused by damaged muscles, tendons and ligaments.6

Strains happen when the muscle fibres tear or are stretched, usually those in the hamstring, foot and back.6 You might experience muscle pain and spasms, bruising, swelling and have some problems in using your muscle properly.6

Sprains on the other hand are caused by stretching and/or tearing of ligaments.6 It’s most likely to affect the ankle, knee, wrist and thumb.6 If you have pain around your affected joint, swelling, tenderness, inflammation, bruising and difficulty putting weight on it, you might have a sprain.6

It can take several weeks, even up to 6-8 weeks, to fully recover from a sprain or strain, but there are many things you can do to help ease the pain.6


Treating body pain

Pain relievers such as paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), for example aspirin or ibuprofen (the medicine in Nurofen 200mg Coated Tablets), can be taken to ease body pain.4-8,10

However, if you have sprains or strains it is best to use topical types of NSAIDs first,6 such as Nurofen Durance 200 mg Medicated Plaster or Nurofen 5% Gel, before trying tablets. Nurofen 200mg Coated Tablets provide relief for up to 8 hours while Nurofen Durance lasts for 24 hours14 – but take care to use either a tablet or the plaster, don’t use both together.

You also need to give your body time to heal and recover, but do try to keep moving, just don’t overdo it. For sprains and strains its recommended you follow PRICE for the first 48–72 hours after injury:6

  • Protect against further harm by using a support
  • Rest the affected part of the body
  • Ice – apply ice wrapped in a damp towel to the affected areas for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours for the first two to three days after injury
  • Compress – use a compression bandage to help control any swelling
  • Elevate – if you can, keep the affected area raised and supported on a pillow until the swelling is controlled.
    Find out more about Nurofen 200mg Coated Tablets, Nurofen Durance 200mg Medicated Plaster and Nurofen 5% Gel


Helping to prevent body pain

Minimise the risk of back pain by practicing safe lifting techniques, watching your posture, losing weight and avoiding sitting still for long periods.5 Regular low impact exercise and back exercises and stretches can help too.5 But take care when exercising that you warm up beforehand, so you don’t cause a sprain or strain.6
If you have osteoarthritis, you can make a big difference by changing your lifestyle, such as maintaining an ideal weight and exercising regularly.8

Nurofen 200mg Coated Tablets contain ibuprofen. For mild to moderate pain.
Nurofen 5% w/w Gel contains ibuprofen. For the relief of pain and inflammation.
Nurofen Durance 200 mg Medicated Plasters contain ibuprofen. For the short-term
symptomatic treatment of local pain in acute muscular strains, or sprains.


This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information presented on these web pages is not meant to diagnose or prescribe. In all health-related matters, always consult your healthcare professional.
*Survey of 1,000 people aged 15+ years between October–November 2006 conducted as part of a pan-European survey in 28 countries.