What do flu pains feel like and do they mimic pains that have been felt in the past?
November 3, 2009 9:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm sick and I'm trying to figure out if it is a cold or flu. The symptom that I would like help diagnosing is pain. I am experiencing muscle pain, but it is similar to non-flu pain I have had in the past. Does flu pain tend to manifest itself similar to pains that your body has had otherwise?

I have a history of back/neck/arm problems from computer use. I have been feeling a lot of pain at the base of my neck today and yesterday, similar to how I felt all the time when my problems were at their worse (several years ago). I have not had the kind of recent physical activity that would typically bring this pain back so I can rule that out. I am a bit stressed and that might have contributed to its presence, but that would be very unusual.

I have looked up the difference between cold and flu symptoms, thanks - just want to know what flu pain feels like and if it makes sense that flu pain would feel like muscle pain that I have been susceptible to in the past but would not expect to be experiencing right now.
posted by pluma moos to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
I would go by fever and nausea instead of pain. Pain can vary between people and if you already have other back/neck problems, it's probably not a good indicator.
posted by rmless at 9:18 AM on November 3, 2009

I had something last spring that had a lot of muscle pain and was definitely an illness of some kind. Muscle pain was the main symptom, esp my back and legs. As well as a bad headache and a fever.
I agree that it could be tough to diagnose just based on muscle pain, although I was in a hole and was definitely sick. I did have a fever and that is the best way to categorically say you're sick.
Whether it was the flu or swine flu or something else I don't know.
posted by alkupe at 9:46 AM on November 3, 2009

For what it's worth, when I recently had the flu it felt like I had shin splints and my girlfriend had weird shoulder pain when she was sick. We clearly had the flu though, as our other symptoms (fever, aches, etc) were unmistakable. I don't know if some people get "flu-lite" or something but for me a cold is unpleasant but livable and the flu is pretty much incapacitating.
posted by ghharr at 9:49 AM on November 3, 2009

Well, I know there are mild, moderate, and severe forms of the flu, and this was probably a severe version, but I had the flu 8 years ago, and the main things I remember about it were that my fever was above 103 for 4 days, and it felt like someone had pulverized my bones. Seriously, my bones hurt. For the first time I completely understood how someone could die from the flu, and that was as someone extremely healthy and in my early twenties. And the fatigue was worse than when I had mono, except that when I had mono, sleeping was very pleasant and did not hurt.
posted by peep at 10:21 AM on November 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

When I had flu, every muscle in my body ached--right down to my toes. I was just sore. It wasn't localized.

Pain at the base of the neck can be a symptom of sinus infection.

Your best bet, of course, is to see a clinician for diagnosis. Hope you feel better soon!
posted by FergieBelle at 10:46 AM on November 3, 2009

You have the flu if you have sudden onset of fever and cough. See the Public Health Agency of Canada(PHAC) for description of H1N1 symptoms.

My non-expert opinion is that muscle pain from the flu can range from muscle pain like you are describing to joint pain and bone aching pain. But according to PHAC muscle pain isn't the clinch pin symptom anyway. It's fever and cough - which is also what will require you to wear a mask when visiting our local hospitals right now.

I'm sorry you are sick. As long has you don't have any of the sign's of serious illness (available from the above link) you will be fine. Sick but not dying!
posted by Gor-ella at 10:52 AM on November 3, 2009

If you don`t have a cough or fever along with the muscle pain then you most likly don`t have the flu. See a list of symtoms and how common they are on the Health Canada website.
posted by Sargas at 11:41 AM on November 3, 2009

Pain at the base of the neck could also be meningitis. Please get yourself checked out by a doctor!
posted by mareli at 12:59 PM on November 3, 2009

I never got officially diagnosed because my doctor's office didn't want folks rushing in unless it was super serious, but I'm pretty certain I had the flu about a month ago. Cough, runny nose, fever, alternating too hot and chills, exhausted. Every long muscle in my body ached. My joints ached.

On about the third day I figured, since I was home, I could at least wash dishes. No dishwasher and it has to get done, right? Washed the glasses and had to lie down. Washed the plates and had to lie down. Rinse and repeat.

The ache and dizzy feeling never left. All I really wanted to do was sleep.

I have chronic back and hip pain. I still make it to work. This was head to toe UGH, topped off by not being able to breathe and not wanting to eat.

I'm finally feeling like a human being a month later. Naps have been my friend. It helps that the sun also finally came out after weeks of grey, rainy weather.

So take your temperature, stay home if you're sick, stay hydrated, and all that other good mom advice. Feel better soon.
posted by lilywing13 at 12:00 AM on November 4, 2009

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