Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"How often does the flu cause joint pain?"
I'm a pretty healthy woman, 22 years old, and I've had flu-like symptoms for about a week. I've just been trying to wait it out, but today my joints started aching badly. How common is it for the flu to cause aching joints? Is this something more than the flu?
Influenza can cause a variety of symptoms that can be very distressing to an individual. Studies that have looked at populations diagnosed with the influenza virus found that the most common complaints are fever, cough, headache, joint pains, sore throat, chills, and muscle aches, and less often include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. One such study found that joint pains were present in 69 percent of just over 1000 patients with Influenza A (median age 17 years). Typically these symptoms tend to occur together, but given that most patients take one to two weeks to completely recover from the flu, it is certainly possible that your joint pains are related to the flu. Joints that are painful and achy related to the influenza virus should not be red and swollen, and you should have full range of motion in these joints (despite them being somewhat achy to maneuver). If any of these worrisome signs are present, it would be advisable to see your primary care physician for further evaluation, where he/she can perform a physical exam and test for the presence of the influenza virus. For someone that is otherwise healthy, however, influenza would be the most common explanation of joint aches in the setting of other flu-like symptoms such as fevers, chills, muscle aches, etc.
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