For the last two years, everyone has been on the lookout for COVID-19 symptoms. Unfortunately, a complex illness like COVID-19 presents differently in different patients, often with many non-specific symptoms that could be caused by many other ailments. A fever and loss of taste used to be the COVID red flags, but the uncertainty of new variants like Omicron has caused many to question their COVID status in the presence of much less dramatic symptoms. Therefore, the first thought you may have if you start to feel back pain is to ask if COVID-19 could cause it.
Backaches are a potential symptom of COVID-19, especially in the presence of other symptoms. Continue reading to learn more about how backache and COVID are linked. Remember that a COVID test is the only way to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis. Speak with your doctor or schedule a test if you have any symptoms.
What Causes Back Pain?
Back pain can have many causes unrelated to COVID-19. These include a herniated disc, arthritis in the spine, muscle strains in that area, and even another underlying condition, such as fibromyalgia.
One of the most confusing issues with using back pain to diagnose COVID-19 is that the normal causes of back pain mentioned above have increased in prevalence during the pandemic, though not directly because of COVID infections. During the lockdown, many people have switched to remote or freelance work, often without the setup in their homes to do so with a healthy posture. Many people now sit for many hours on soft couches or hard dining room chairs without realizing that their poor posture and lack of support could contribute to back pain.
With a lower level of activity and a reduction in healthy sitting options, many people have experienced recurring, worsening, or new back pain during the pandemic. It’s significant to note that while back pain can be an indicator of COVID, it can also indicate these poor working conditions owing to changes of habit during the pandemic.
Back Pain as a Symptom of COVID-19
Back pain is not considered a direct symptom of COVID-19 that indicates the presence of the virus by itself. Primary symptoms remain located more in immune response processes such as fever or fatigue, as well as flu-like symptoms such as cough and sore throat. However, back pain can be caused by the body’s response to COVID-19 in both the short and long term.
Back pain has been more commonly reported as coinciding with a COVID-19 infection since the emergence of the Omicron variant, which has displayed a different prevalence of symptoms. COVID-19 is a systemic illness that causes not only widespread effects but initiates your body’s widespread response as well.
An immune response can cause joint and muscle pain in your legs and back in the case of any infection, including COVID. During an infection, your body’s cells release proteins called interleukins as a defense mechanism. This leads to muscle aches which can include back pain.
Additionally, back pain has been reported as a symptom of “long COVID,” which describes symptoms that persist at low levels even after the patient has fought off the virus. Lingering muscle aches for weeks or months are an ongoing burden for those who already contracted COVID, making it even more important to take necessary measures to prevent illness, such as getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public, and getting tested.
Back pain is an extremely common complaint, so it remains an imprecise indication of COVID-19 on its own. However, muscle aches in the presence of fever, fatigue, runny nose, sore throat, or other COVID symptoms can indicate the presence of the virus.
While many people experience back pain related to new working conditions during the pandemic, it remains important to assess whether the pain is a result of lifestyle changes or the COVID-19 virus. Since the only way to rule out the virus is to get tested, back pain in the presence of other symptoms like fever or fatigue should be considered a valid reason to schedule a test.
Speedy Sticks is a mobile concierge phlebotomy service that provides at-home blood draws and on-site diagnostic/health screenings for businesses and individuals. One of these tests is a COVID-19 test, which can be performed by one of our specialists. Book an appointment today to find out whether you or a family member has COVID-19.
*This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace consulting with a healthcare professional. Please consult with your primary care physician or healthcare provider before engaging in any services offered by Speedy Sticks.