Joint pain can be a symptom of COVID-19. It can also be a symptom of long COVID-19. Scientists believe that it results from inflammation. There are medications and exercises a person can use to help ease their joint pain.
COVID-19 is an illness that develops as a result of the SARS-CoV-2 viral infection and has well-known respiratory symptoms. However, it can also result in acute or chronic joint pain.
This article looks at how joint pain can develop as a result of COVID-19 and during long COVID-19. It will then discuss how doctors treat this joint pain, before looking at other conditions that cause painful joints.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 can cause joint pain during the SARS-CoV-2 infection itself.
A 2021 study states that joint pain is one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19, arising in
A study in the
Scientists are unsure about the connection between joint pain and COVID-19. There is some
However, not everyone with COVID-19 develops inflammatory arthritis. A 2020 study instead suggests that COVID-19 might cause joint pain via more generic inflammatory mechanisms.
The aforementioned 2020 study explains that there are no established medical guidelines on how to treat joint pain as a result of COVID-19.
However, a person can take over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications, such as ibuprofen and paracetamol.
Despite initial concerns that ibuprofen was unsafe to take with COVID-19, the
Learn more about ibuprofen and COVID-19.
Scientists will continue to research the best ways of treating joint pain from COVID-19.
Some individuals experience symptoms even after recovering from COVID-19. Many people know this syndrome as long COVID-19.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) notes that the most common symptoms of long COVID-19 include:
- shortness of breath
- a loss of smell
- muscle aches
Both oral steroids and steroid injections can help people manage this symptom of long COVID-19.
Some OTC pain medications may also help with joint pain associated with long COVID-19.
However, an individual should seek medical advice about taking medications to manage this pain, particularly if they intend on taking these medications long term.
People may also be able to manage joint pain at home. The NHS recommends slowly maintaining or returning to physical activities, including:
- tai chi
- climbing stairs
- working with resistance bands
- walking uphill
However, it is important that a person paces themselves. If their pain is stopping them from completing their task, a person should stop and try again later.
To manage joint pain, a person can:
- plan what they need to do that day
- find ways to relax, if possible
- take part in regular exercise, even in small amounts
- speak with loved ones
- do things they enjoy
There are many possible causes of joint pain, which range from injury to an underlying disease. The following are common causes of joint pain:
- sprains or strains
- rheumatoid arthritis
- joint infections
A person should contact a doctor if they are experiencing joint pain, particularly if it is affecting their ability to perform daily tasks.
People should also contact a doctor if their joint pain accompanies symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms include:
- a cough
- shortness of breath
- a sore throat
Research shows that some people are at an
If such a person has symptoms of COVID-19, it is especially important that they contact a doctor.
Although COVID-19 has well-known respiratory symptoms, this condition can also cause joint pain. Scientists believe that this might occur due to increased inflammation. There is even some indication that COVID-19 sometimes causes arthritis, although the research on this remains unclear.
Joint pain is one of the more common symptoms of COVID-19. It may be more prevalent as a symptom of long COVID-19. Joint pain from COVID-19 may be more common in people with a more serious form of the condition.
Scientists have found that steroids and DMARDs can help alleviate COVID-19 joint pain. However, there is not yet a standardized treatment for this symptom.