Knee pain in older woman at home

A bout with moderate to severe COVID-19 may put patients at high risk for chronic pain, a new national study finds.

Investigators used data from more than 15,000 participants in the 2021 National Health Interview Survey to examine the odds of experiencing high-frequency levels of pain in the three months after a COVID-19 illness. Researchers compared the reports of patients who said they experienced no and/or mild symptoms and those reporting moderate and/or severe symptoms with people who were never infected.

Compared to the no-infection group, those with moderate/high COVID-19 symptoms were more likely to have pain, and 26% of patients with non-mild cases reported frequent pain, they found.

“A moderate/highly symptomatic COVID-19 infection may be a new risk factor for chronic pain,” the researchers wrote. The results suggest that the overall prevalence of COVID-19 related chronic pain may increase, they said, as the number of people who have experienced a severe COVID-19 infection continues to rise.

“While knowledge continues to unfold on long-haul [long COVID] symptoms, prevention of severe infections remains essential,” they concluded.

Full findings were published in PLOS ONE.

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