Some COVID-19 patients experience ongoing symptoms months after they recover from the infection. People usually refer to ongoing health problems after COVID-19 recovery as Post-COVID or Long COVID. One of the most common Long COVID symptoms is joint and muscle pain, especially in the leg.
How do you treat Post-COVID leg pain, and do you need physical therapy? Read on to find out more about the topic.
What is Post-COVID Syndrome?
Post-COVID syndrome or Long COVID is when you exhibit persistent symptoms of COVID-19 for a long time after recovery. Most people recover from COVID-19 a few weeks after they test positive, but some still exhibit lingering symptoms like brain fog, extreme fatigue and difficulty breathing for months afterward.
While people exhibiting these symptoms are generally no longer contagious, Long COVID can negatively affect a person’s physical and mental health.
Causes of Post-COVID Syndrome
Experts are still searching for a clear link between COVID-19 and Long COVID, so we don’t have a clear answer yet as to what the latter’s causes are. That said, researchers have posited three theories for Post-COVID syndrome:
- COVID-19 causes blood clotting in the patient’s lungs.
- COVID-19 virus particles linger in the patient’s body long after recovery.
- COVID-19 destabilizes the patient’s immune system, causing it to be on high alert constantly.
We do know that even a mild case of COVID-19 can lead to Long COVID. While we wait for Long COVID research to give us more conclusive evidence, we should reduce our risks of catching COVID-19 in the first place.
Long COVID risk factors
Without a definitive cause of Long COVID, we can’t identify its potential risk factors. However, since post-COVID syndrome starts with a COVID-19 infection, research suggests it may have the same risk factors:
- Old age
- Lung disease
- Heart problems
- High blood pressure
- Other underlying health conditions
- High-risk work settings
The symptoms of Post-COVID syndrome
As with COVID-19, it pays to know the most frequent symptoms of Post-COVID so you know when to seek treatment. Generally, you don’t have to go to a hospital with mild symptoms of Long COVID, but you may need to seek immediate treatment if you exhibit severe symptoms.
Here are some common symptoms related to Post-COVID conditions. This isn’t an exhaustive list, so watch out for other symptoms.
General Post-COVID symptoms
- Constant tiredness or extreme fatigue
- Post-exertional malaise or additional symptoms that manifest after physical or mental exertion
- Joint or muscle pain
- Menstrual cycle changes
Mental and neurological symptoms
- Brain fog
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in smell or taste
- Negative thoughts, depression and anxiety
Lung and heart symptoms
- Difficulty breathing
- Persistent coughing
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Heart muscle inflammations
- Stomach pain
Treating lingering Post-COVID symptoms
If you experience any long-term symptoms of Post-COVID, we encourage you to visit a doctor. Blood tests, chest X-rays, electrocardiograms and other clinical evaluations can identify your issues as well as the best way to treat or manage them.
In addition to watching out for continuing symptoms, consider the long-term effects of long-haul COVID.
Some people report persistent muscle weakness, reduced brain functions and even stress disorders while suffering from long-haul COVID. Ask your healthcare provider for a treatment plan to manage these medical conditions and seek intensive care if necessary.
Post-COVID leg, back and chest pain
Many former COVID-19 patients report muscle and joint pain that lasts for weeks or even months, especially in the leg, back and chest. Some also experience reduced muscle strength.
Causes of Post-COVID pain
Unfortunately, like Post-COVID syndrome, there’s no certain answer for what’s causing Post-COVID pain and what its risk factors are. Here are some theories posited by experts and research organizations about the cause of Post-COVID pain:
- Body inactivity: Post-COVID leg pain may come from spending too much time sitting or lying down during COVID-19 recovery.
- Rheumatic flare-ups: Post-COVID joint and muscle pains may be caused by existing rheumatic diseases in response to the steroid and antiviral contents of COVID-19 drugs.
- Increased weight: Post-COVID patients usually gain weight during COVID-19 recovery. When they get back to exercising, a combination of weak joints and increased weight causes pain in their knees, hips and back.
Treating Post-COVID leg pain
Regular exercise is one of the best ways to recover from Post-COVID leg pain. There are two types of exercises you can try:
- Flexibility exercises: Exercises like yoga and tai chi build your balance and flexibility, which relieves muscle tension and soreness.
- Strength exercises: Exercises like weightlifting or stair-climbing strengthen your joints and muscles, making them more resistant to pain.
If you’ve recently recovered from COVID, check with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise.
Post-traumatic stress disorder and COVID
One of the most dangerous long-term effects of COVID-19 is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are many stressors related to the pandemic, whether it’s suffering a severe illness, getting laid off from work or losing somebody to COVID-19. The impact of COVID-19 on people’s mental health is why we should focus on both mental and physical symptoms.
If you’re feeling stress, depression or other mental health problems related to COVID-19, we suggest talking to a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist to develop a treatment plan that fits your needs.
Post-COVID pain treatment and rehabilitation with RT Medical
RT Medical offers a dedicated Post-COVID telehealth clinic to assist patients in managing their symptoms and preventing ongoing health problems after recovering from COVID-19.
We offer a Post-COVID healthcare plan tailored to your specific requirements based on a thorough health assessment and your medical records. In addition to our custom-made Post-COVID rehabilitation plan, we also offer insightful patient resources and treatment from trained healthcare professionals.
When you sign up for RT Medical’s Post-COVID recovery program, you’ll receive a package that includes:
- A welcome call to answer preliminary questions and identify early issues
- A comprehensive health assessment with our specialized healthcare providers
- Diagnostic test referrals (if necessary)
- Drug prescriptions redeemable at your local pharmacy
- Referrals to necessary specialist doctors
- A tailor-made healthcare plan with treatment and symptom management tips
- A follow-up appointment with our specialized healthcare providers
- Flexible remote care that you can schedule at any time from the comfort of your own home
One of the symptoms of Post-COVID is muscle and joint pain, especially in the back, chest and legs. While experts haven’t agreed on what caused these pains, you can manage these symptoms and avoid long-term effects through regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
Postcovid.ca is here to accompany your Post-COVID recovery journey. We offer telehealth care from trained specialists, meaning you can receive world-class treatment without leaving the house. Schedule a free call today to learn how we can help you!
Post-COVID leg pain treatment FAQs
Who has a higher risk of developing Long COVID?
Any former COVID-19 patient can develop Long COVID and related health problems. Researchers still haven’t found specific causes for Post-COVID conditions, so anybody with a COVID-positive test can get Long COVID. From this, we can say that people with a greater risk of COVID are more likely to suffer from Post-COVID conditions.
How do you treat Post-COVID leg pain?
One of the best ways to alleviate leg pain from Post-COVID conditions is by exercising. Strength and flexibility exercises are especially useful in building resistance and endurance so your leg won’t hurt as much.
Do COVID-19 vaccines prevent Post-COVID symptoms?
COVID-19 vaccines don’t specifically prevent Post-COVID conditions. However, vaccinated COVID-19 patients with breakthrough infections are less likely to get Post-COVID.
What do I need to do if I have Post-COVID symptoms?
If you exhibit Post-COVID symptoms, you should assess your condition first. If you experience mild symptoms, contact healthcare providers for further treatment. However, if you show severe symptoms and experience serious health issues, you should contact an intensive care unit.
How long do Post-COVID symptoms last?
There’s no definitive answer to how long Post-COVID symptoms last. However, most people who suffer from Post-COVID conditions report symptoms lasting from several weeks to a few months after their initial COVID-19 diagnosis.
Are COVID long-haulers contagious?
COVID long-haulers typically aren’t contagious because they’ve recovered from the initial infection. That said, they should still be careful and contact health professionals if they experience symptoms.
Are mild symptoms of Post-COVID dangerous?
Mild symptoms related to Post-COVID may not be dangerous right now, but they may develop into a severe illness later on if left unchecked. We recommend contacting a healthcare professional even if you only have a mild illness after recovering from COVID-19.