Diseases That Cause Pain & Muscle Aches

Many diseases can cause pain and muscle aches. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, muscle aches and pains are a common health complaint and can involve one or more muscles 1. The NIH states that, although muscle aches and pain are often caused by tension, overuse and muscle injury, they may also be symptomatic of a muscle disease or condition that affects the entire body.

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Dermatomyositis is a disease that can cause pain and muscle aches. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke—a division of the NIH—dermatomyositis is an inflammatory myopathy that's characterized by chronic muscle inflammation along with muscle weakness. NINDS notes that the principal symptom associated with dermatomyositis is a purple or red skin rash that manifests before, during or after progressive muscle weakness. The rash typically develops on a person's eyelids and on extensor muscles or muscles used to straighten a joint, such as the knuckles, elbows, knees and toes. Other common locations for the dermatomyositis-related rash—and possible swelling—include the following: face, neck, shoulders, chest and back. NINDS states that the rash may even occur in the absence of muscle aches or pain.

Intermittent Claudication

Intermittent claudication is a disease that can cause pain and muscle aches. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that intermittent claudication is caused by decreased blood flow to the lower extremity due to blocked or occluded arteries and that intermittent claudication causes cramps and leg pain that manifest during exercise, especially walking. UMMC states that intermittent claudication is associated with peripheral artery disease, or PAD, and that the term "intermittent" implies that the pain and muscle aches associated with the condition come and go. Common intermittent claudication-related symptoms include the following: muscle aches and pains in the legs, thighs and buttocks, and fatigue that occurs with exercise. UMMC notes that intermittent claudication symptoms typically self-resolve following several minutes of rest after physical exertion, and that leg pain occurs in one leg in 40 percent of people with intermittent claudication and in both legs in 60 percent of people.


Tetanus is a disease that can cause pain and muscle aches. According to the Mayo Clinic website, tetanus—a serious bacterial disease—is caused by a toxin that induces stiffness in a person's jaw and other muscles and that can cause severe muscle spasms, complicate a person's ability to breathe and eventually endanger a person's life 2. The Mayo Clinic website notes that tetanus symptoms can manifest from a few days to several weeks after tetanus bacteria infection and that the average incubation period of the disease is eight days 2. The most common signs and symptoms of tetanus include the following: muscle spasms and stiffness in the jaw, neck, chest, abdomen and back; breathing difficulties; fever; and muscle irritation. The Mayo Clinic website states that tetanus treatments are available, although the treatment process is long and not always effective, and that the disease may be fatal even with treatment 2. The most effective approach to tetanus is to prevent the disease by getting a tetanus shot.