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What are Common Causes of Joint Pain and Headaches?

By T. Broderick
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many medical conditions, mainly infections, that cause joint pain and headaches. The common causes are the flu, H1N1, and mononucleosis. Other causes such as Lyme disease require immediate medical attention. An individual should seek the care of his or her physician if these symptoms last for more than a few days or present with other, more serious symptoms.

The flu is the most common cause of headaches and joint pain appearing together. A seasonal infection that appears in the winter and early spring, it is transmitted through the coughing of infected individuals. Symptoms take roughly three days to appear. Along with joint pain and headaches, individuals with the flu experience dizziness, chills, body aches and general lack of energy. The flu is preventable through receiving an annual flu shot.

H1N1, or swine flu, is an infection that in many ways resembles the common flu. As H1N1 is a relatively new virus, the human immune system has a more difficult job in fighting the infection. Thus the symptoms, though identical to the flu, present much more intensely. There is a greater risk to those with already weakened immune systems, the elderly and the very young. These groups of people need annual vaccinations against the virus or must seek medical attention as soon as flu symptoms appear.

Mononucleosis, or mono, is another viral infection. Characterized mainly by drowsiness and loss of appetite, joint pain and headaches regularly occur with mono. There is no vaccine for mono. The best treatment is maintaining hydration, rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. Unlike the flu, a person gains permanent immunity after recovery. An individual with mono must remember that even after recovery, he or she can be contagious for months.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection passed on through tick bites. Though joint pain and headaches are primary symptoms, the presence of a rash resembling a bull's eye is the tell-tale symptom. Chills and fever develop simultaneously as well. If diagnosed early enough, antibiotics can cure Lyme disease without any lingering symptoms. Delayed treatment allows the disease to inflict nerve and possibly brain damage that lingers even after the infection is no longer present.

It is always wise to see one's physician if these symptoms do not go away or become worse after a few days. Though the likelihood of a serious, life-threatening condition is low, a medical diagnosis puts the patient on a quicker path toward recovery. Whether antibiotics or aspirin, a doctor will be able to provide a right course of treatment.

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Discussion Comments
By turquoise — On Oct 06, 2013

I have unexplained joint pain and headaches. At this point, it could be anything, but it's probably some kind of autoimmune disorder. I've been testing negative for infectious diseases. I also had a brain MRI and that came back normal, so my diagnosis has become very difficult. All I can do is treat my symptoms. I'm on pain relievers and muscle relaxers. My doctor has also put me on an anti-depressant for ease of mind.

I'm seeing a rheumatologist next week. Maybe he can figure out the cause.

By stoneMason — On Oct 06, 2013

@ddljohn-- Have you asked your doctor?

I'm not a doctor but I had mononucleosis many years ago. I remember having joint pain, neck pain and headaches for months. It took almost a year for me to feel completely better again. I think everyone responds to the mononucleosis virus differently. Some people recover faster than others. So I have no idea how long your symptoms will continue. But it's a good idea to get periodic check-ups to make sure that everything is okay.

Complications can arise from mononucleosis but since it has been four months, I doubt you'll have them. Just make sure to get plenty of rest, don't tire yourself out and eat well.

By ddljohn — On Oct 05, 2013

I have joint pain and headaches from mononucleosis. Technically, I have recovered. It has been four months and I don't get fevers anymore. But I still have chronic muscle and joint pain and headaches. How long does it take for these symptoms to go away?

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