Long COVID is linked to chronic pain conditions

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As the world continues to navigate the aftermath of the pandemic, many individuals are facing a challenging battle against long-lasting symptoms that linger long after recovering from COVID-19, a condition often referred to as long COVID.

This condition includes a range of symptoms like confusion, extreme tiredness, headaches, and various pains, much like what people experience with other known health issues.

A recent study conducted by Rachel Bergmans, Ph.D., alongside her colleagues at Michigan Medicine, sheds light on the similarities between long COVID and chronic overlapping pain conditions (COPCs).

COPCs include illnesses such as fibromyalgia, migraine, and chronic low back pain, among others.

The research aimed to understand whether long COVID stands out as a unique condition compared to other pain syndromes and to explore if existing chronic pain conditions could increase the likelihood of developing long COVID symptoms.

The motivation behind the study was the observation of increased pain and fatigue in individuals following other infectious diseases, such as the SARS outbreak in 2002, according to Bergmans.

The researchers looked into health records from across the United States, focusing on three groups: those who had contracted COVID-19, those who had influenza (the flu), and those with no infection history.

They compared the chances of being diagnosed with long COVID among individuals with COPCs against those without any chronic pain conditions.

The findings revealed that having a chronic pain condition heightened the risk of experiencing long COVID symptoms, similar to other known risk factors such as gender or hospitalization due to COVID-19.

Intriguingly, individuals who had influenza were found more likely to display long COVID symptoms than those with a COVID-19 infection.

Moreover, over 24% of people with chronic pain conditions showed long COVID symptoms even without having been infected.

Bergmans points to a type of pain known as nociplastic pain to explain these observations. Nociplastic pain arises from an increased sensitivity in the central nervous system and is often a predictor of future pain experiences.

It suggests that infections, trauma, and stress can activate or worsen this kind of pain, along with symptoms commonly associated with long COVID.

The silver lining in this research is the potential for applying existing knowledge on chronic pain management to help individuals suffering from long COVID.

With the extensive research already available on treating chronic pain, patients facing long COVID may find relief and strategies to manage their condition.

Michigan Medicine has even developed resources specifically for patients dealing with the aftereffects of COVID-19, aiming to provide guidance through this complex and often misunderstood condition.

This study not only highlights the persistent challenges faced by those with long COVID but also emphasizes the importance of viewing it through the lens of existing chronic pain conditions.

By doing so, it opens up avenues for more effective management and support for those affected, underscoring the significant impact of the pandemic on individuals’ lives beyond the immediate health crisis.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to severe COVID-19, death, and how diets could help manage post-COVID syndrome.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about COVID infection and vaccination linked to heart disease, and results showing extracts from two wild plants can inhibit COVID-19 virus.

The research findings can be found in PAIN.

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