Pain is very common in covid patients. The common types of pain in covid are musculoskeletal pain (14.9%), and headache (13.6%). Other common pains are chest pain and abdominal pain. Many of these pain symptoms continue long even after recovery from acute covid and the condition is called Long Covid. The most common types of musculoskeletal pain are shoulder and back pain, but small joint and muscle pain can occur in any part of the body.
Some people experience severe shoulder and arm pain after Covid, especially those that were admitted to the hospital. There might be stiffness, burning and tingling sensations, numbness of the arms, and weakness along with pain. Many of those problems improve with time, but if the problem is severe and persists longer one must contact a doctor.
Arthralgia or joint pain and Myalgia or muscle pain are very common in the and include pain in the neck, back, shoulder, knee, and small joints of hands & feet. Many of us will have had these at some point in their life. Most of those problems aren’t serious and improve or recover quickly except for those who are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, spondyloarthritis, or fibromyalgia.
There are multiple reasons behind muscle and joint pain. These are:
- Damage of muscle because of viral infection or immunological injury
- Damage and changes of pain carrying nerves
- Deconditioning of muscle and joints because of rest during illness and hospital admission
- Pain associated with the treatment of Covid illness
- Psychological issues like anxiety and depression can increase pain
- Pre-existing patients with chronic pain may suffer from more pain.
What should be done in muscle and joint pain?
Tips of pain management in Covid:
- Most joint and muscle pain after Covid improve quite quickly. You can take care of your muscles and joints with simple activities and exercises. Don’t be too much anxious and take the help of physicians when it is moderate to severe and persists long.
- Gradually start normal daily life activities, gradually increase the quantity of movement and activities. It is well known that muscles, joints, and bones are wasted and deconditioned with rest and become stronger with movements. So, do movement, walking and gradually increase the activities.
- It is safe to do exercises after Covid unless advised by a doctor. Aim for a balance between activity and rest. Initially, you’ll need to rest more frequently than general physical activities and no exercises. With time and improvements gradually increase general physical activities and later add exercises. Never overdo for rapid recovery.
- General physical activity means all the activities that we normally do like washing and dressing, going to the dining table to take breakfast or lunch, housework like cleaning, gardening, etc.
- There are different types of exercises like strengthening exercises, flexibility exercises, stretching exercises, etc. The simple exercise to start with can be walking on a plane surface. Other forms of exercises should be done with the advice of a physiotherapist in a setup for post covid rehabilitation.
- Yoga, pranayama, or meditations can also be started with the advice of a physiotherapist.
When and what medicines can be started at home?
Painkillers medicines can be dangerous and must be taken with the advice of doctors only. Apart from its side effects, many a time these pain medicines may hide the danger signal and one can report to a doctor later.
Most commonly doctors prescribe paracetamol and muscle relaxants for pain. But many patients need additional nerve medicines and antidepressant medicines. Some time doctors advise interventions like joint injections if it is needed. Application of heat or cold sometimes gives good pain relief and can be done at home.
When should one contact a doctor?
Ideally, all patients should consult a doctor at least once for a check-up even after recovery, but a doctor must be consulted in the following situations:
- More than mild pain
- Persistent pain even it is mild
- Presence of numbness, tingling sensations
- Presence of weakness of a part of the body
- If there difficulties in passing urine or stool
- If there is persistent chest pain, abdominal pain, or headache
- History of unconsciousness or convulsions
- Swelling of joints
- Red or hot joints
- Difficulties in sleep because of pain
Most types of pain are recovered quickly and one must not be anxious or panicked, but at times pain management is very challenging. But it is always advised to take a doctor’s opinion at least once.