This month, we will discuss the symptoms of chronic pain that people with long COVID experience. There have been several studies carried out to determine how long COVID impacts the body. Chronic pain is one of the latest symptoms to be reported, with some patients experiencing excruciating pain months after fighting off the virus.
So, what is the link between long COVID and chronic pain? And what treatment options do patients have to combat it? Discover everything you need to know in this informative article.
What is long COVID?
Long COVID is defined as long-term symptoms of the coronavirus that remain long after the acute phase of the viral infection has passed. Currently, not much is known about the condition. But research is being carried out to help medical professionals gain a better understanding.
The World Health Organisation has released a clinical definition of long COVID, by Delphi methodology – with symptoms including joint and muscle pain, headache, and neuralgias, among others.
The main symptoms of long COVID have been listed as:
- Extreme fatigue
- Joint pain
- Shortness of breath
- Memory and concentration issues
- Anxiety and depression
- Chest tightness or pain
Although there is a long list of lasting symptoms that patients can experience, pain is recognised as a key feature.
Why are COVID patients developing chronic pain?
The coronavirus, like any viral infection, can cause the muscles of the body to become sore and inflamed. While this is usually only temporary, in some cases it is presenting as a long-term symptom. In a recent study from Italy, for example, one-third of patients surveyed that had COVID a few months prior had symptoms of fibromyalgia or widespread muscle or bone pain.
Increased pain is also being linked to the stress of the pandemic. As life has changed dramatically, stress levels are incredibly high right now. The added stress could therefore be exacerbating the symptoms of chronic pain.
Finally, a lack of understanding is contributing to patients not seeking treatment for chronic pain. The trouble is pain is very subjective and it is also invisible. This means it isn’t always easy for doctors to recognise and diagnose chronic pain.
These are some of the main reasons COVID patients are experiencing chronic pain long after the virus has gone. However, research is continuing into long COVID symptoms, including chronic pain, to help identify potential risks and suitable treatments.
Treating long COVID chronic pain
For patients who are experiencing long COVID chronic pain, early treatment is crucial. There are effective treatment options to eliminate the symptoms of chronic pain such as physical therapy.
The trouble with chronic pain is that it often leads to inactivity. This can cause the pain to worsen as the joints begin to stiffen up. But by beginning physical therapy you can keep the joints mobile, reducing the pain experienced.
Overall, specific diagnosis of the pain syndrome and comprehensive treatment is likely to improve symptoms. Dr Ivanova-Stoilova can help you if you are suffering from long COVID chronic pain. Book a consultation today to shorten your journey back to health.