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How COVID-19 Is Affecting Chronic Pain Patients and What to Do About It

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Anyone will agree that COVID-19 has transformed every aspect of life. But have you ever thought of how it affects people struggling with chronic pain? According to a published study by the National Health Institute, COVID-19 has a significant impact on patients with a history of chronic pain. There is evidence that symptoms linked to the virus are persistent pain and aches or myalgia, which could reduce the quality of life for those already dealing with chronic pain. 

Pain is a global health issue linked to stress, anxiety, and depression. It also interferes with your ability to work and enjoy hobbies like watching a football match between Barcelona and Osasuna, swimming, or gardening. Now imagine the psychological and social effects the COVID-19 pandemic presented, paired with the consequences of pain. Life becomes more complicated. 

Are you wondering how the coronavirus affects the lives of people living with chronic pain and how they can cope? This post will explore how COVID-19 affects individuals living with chronic pain and what they can do about it. 

The Link Between COVID-19 and Pain

Is there a connection between COVID-19 and pain? A study cited in PLOS ONE reveals the prevalence of pain among those infected with COVID-19 was higher compared to those with zero symptoms of the virus. What does this mean? The coronavirus could be a risk factor for chronic pain, causing relapse for patients with a history of persistent pain. 

Several aspects of COVID-19 could influence pain in individuals. For example, infection can trigger existing pain in patients that present risk factors like:

  • overweight
  • old age
  • chronic diseases (cardiovascular disorder, diabetes, and hypertension)

Post-viral syndrome, an acute viral or bacterial infection before a chronic disease like COVID-19, could also cause organ damage, thus increasing pain. Note that this virus can activate proinflammatory molecules that trigger an inflammatory response, leading to cell death. When this happens, patients not only experience pain but also suffer bone loss and arthritis. Mayo Clinic reports inflammation and immune problems caused by COVID-19 also worsen ongoing health problems or lead to the development of new ones like nervous system conditions, heart disease, diabetes, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

What to do about COVID-19 and Chronic Pain

Now, you are aware of the link between COVID-19 and pain. How do you manage both conditions to lead a healthy life free of pain? 

  • Consult a Pain Specialist

If you have a history of chronic pain and contract COVID-19, the pain will probably persist in certain parts of your body. Often, COVID-19 patients experience pain in the back and shoulders. But you could also feel pain in your lower back, neck, legs, and joints, accompanied by other symptoms like tenderness and stiffness. 

If you are suffering from long-term pain, consulting a pain management specialist is vital. Why? Pain specialists know that chronic pain can be a result of an underlying condition. So, they will conduct advanced tests and prescribe effective medication. 

Remember, your doctor will consider the underlying cause of the pain when providing medicine to ensure they address your unique health needs. Another thing about pain specialists is they can offer a multidisciplinary approach to managing your chronic pain. 

So, what is a multidisciplinary approach? According to Oklahoma Interventional Spine & Pain, this treatment option combines advanced medical techniques, lifestyle changes, and psychological support to manage pain. The results are interesting for anyone who struggles with long-term pain. A multidisciplinary approach reduces pain and restores your ability to enjoy life while eliminating the need for surgical procedures for pain management. 

  • Eat Healthy

Did you know what you eat significantly affects pain and the immune system? Typically, consuming foods rich in nutrients improves your chances of recovering from COVID-19 and reducing pain by boosting your immunity and managing inflammation. 

According to Medical News Today, healthy foods for COVID include plant-based meals, Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and proteins, vitamin D, Zinc, and vitamin C. Each food has nutrients that reduce inflammation and enhance your immune system. For example, plant-based foods like legumes, beans, vegetables, nuts, fruits, and olives are rich in antioxidants that help fight viruses and reduce toxins in the body, reducing inflammation. On the other hand, fiber-rich foods produce favorable gut bacteria that prevent inflammation. 

  • Stay Active

Pain, combined with symptoms of COVID-19, causes problems like poor sleep quality, stress, and increased use of opioids, which compromise immunity. While staying inactive, relaxing on the couch, enjoying UNC-NC state men’s basketball, or playing video games seems like a perfect choice, exercise regularly. Incorporating exercise into your daily routine can help improve your overall health. Exercise helps the body release endorphins, natural painkillers that lower pain. Workouts help control blood sugar levels and eliminate toxins, thus preventing inflammation. 

Conclusion

For those living with chronic pain, COVID-19 can make their situation worse. Studies show the virus increases pain in various ways. Infections caused by the virus trigger inflammatory responses that result in cell damage and organ failure, thus increasing pain. 

Chronic patients who contract COVID also experience stress, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and post-traumatic stress disorders. All these conditions increase the risk of back, leg, neck, and joint pain. Fortunately, chronic pain patients can counter the consequences of COVID-19 by eating healthy, exercising, and seeking help from a pain specialist. 

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