Post Covid syndrome may restrict people from resuming their day-to-day activities with its prolonged and persistent symptoms like fatigue, problems in concentrating, anxiety issues, chest pain, joint pain and muscle ache. While some of these post-covid symptoms would go away with time, some will need medical intervention, others may cause permanent damage to the body. Many people are complaining of joint pain and muscle aches post Covid, and the pain has stayed even several months after their recovery. Dr KP Kosygan Senior Orthopedic Surgeon, Apollo Hospital feels these issues should not be neglected if experienced over a period of time as Covid-19 may worsen already existing joint pain issues or even lead to onset of an autoimmune disease like arthritis.
Why People May Experience Body Pains During Covid-19
Body pains in the course of any viral disease be it Covid-19, dengue or chikangunya are quite common. But in case of Covid, body pain can occur with or without other symptoms. Roughly, 20-25% patients, particularly in their old age, may experience muscle or joint pain along with the other symptoms while in around 5%, it may be the only symptom.
Difference Between Covid-19 And Post-Covid Muscle Pain
According to Dr Kosygan, Myalgia or muscle pain can be caused by virus in two ways:
Sudden And Acute Pain: When we experience sudden and acute pain during Covid, we know it is because of the immune system as it releases cytokines which causes inflammation in the muscles and sometimes in the joints. This, however, usually in most cases lasts only till the acute period and gradually as they come out of it, they recover from it.
Post Covid Syndrome: Long Covid or Post Covid symptoms can appear after one or two months after the onset of illness. The symptoms that the patients may exhibit post Covid are fatigue, intermittent headache, joint pain and they don't feel they are back to normal. Now this group of patients needs proper assessment
Can Post Covid Joint Pain Be Reversed Or Not?
First there is a need to assess the history of the patient to see the person suffered from joint issues in the past or not. Secondly, the joints have to be analyzed to see whether structurally the virus infection or any illness has caused damage to the tissues in a permanent way.
In case there was no history of disease or no significant damage to the tissues, the following must be done.
- The patients must get back to physical exercise gradually. A lot of times, it happens that many of us are not used to taking rest for more than two days.
- Rest, adequate hydration and some supplements will help
- In order to avoid post-Covid pains, one must not stay inactive completely and if you are quarantined then moderate exercise must be continued
- During Covid, however, one must avoid strenuous exercise, because you may face a condition called hypoxia or low oxygen saturation because of which you may suffer from anaerobic metabolism with increased levels of lactate which may increase the severity of the disease.
- If there is no damage to their joints, people will come out of it with time
When There Is Damage to Bones and Joints
Some recent studies have been able to establish that there may be degeneration of joints in post Covid patients who already suffered from such issues or even those who did not.
Covid can trigger auto-immune response and it has been found that there has been deterioration in the conditions of patients who suffered from arthritis or other such conditions.
Even in patients who never had any joint related problem are also coming up with issues related to joints.
Covid may not only lead to muscle pain post the disease, but also has the potential to aggravate previously existing joint conditions and also onset of autoimmune diseases in some.
However, this condition is not likely to be corrected and steps can only be taken to slow down the degeneration. "In general once any joint is affected as a process of autoimmune reaction of a virus like the degenerative joint disease, the degeneration is likely to progress," says the doctor.
What Can be Done
- Persistent joint and muscle pain should never be ignored
- If even after 4-6 months post Covid, you are having persistent pain it needs to be investigated
- If the patient suffered from autoimmune arthritis then a rheumatologist must be involved
- While the degeneration cannot be reverse, treatment should be initiated to halt or slow down the process.
- While some of the post-Covid symptoms will heal on their own in time, there are others that must not be ignored. One must take care of physical fitness and nutrition intake during the recovery process for long-term good health.
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