Can the Coronavirus affect my bones and joints?
It is a question that many patients are asking their #OrthopaedicSurgeons in the midst of the #pandemic. It reminds us of the #Dengue and #Chikungunya fever spikes over the last two decades. Both viral infections have been associated with terrible joint pains and body aches, weeks after the infection episode. Termed reactive #arthritis, patients have sometimes struggled with pain and disability for months and years on end, with neither precise diagnosis nor specific treatment.
Many symptoms of #Covid19 including body ache, mimic the typical symptoms of the viral flu. Around 5-10 percent of patients, two to four weeks after the infection, may develop muscle aches or myalgias. One may get pain in the arms, legs, or back that develops spontaneously with no injury. Typically, in a coronavirus infection, the pain is in muscles rather than in joints. But if you have an arthritic knee or hip, the virus may exaggerate #symptoms. The pain may be severe and limiting. While the coronavirus can cause permanent damage to vital organs such as the lungs, it is not known yet to cause any permanent damage to bones and joints. It is, however, too early to know all the long-term consequences!
Prone positioning, oxygen supplementation, oral/ injectable steroids have been validated to work as COVID-19 treatments. #Remdesivir, Favipiravir, Hydroxychloroquine and a few other therapies have been speculated to work. But there are no great ideas yet to tackle post-Covid musculoskeletal symptoms. Our primary approach as Orthopaedic surgeons is to rule out all other possible causes. Attributing aches and pains to Covid-19 is akin to labelling patients with Fibromyalgia – nothing else fits the picture! Next, we face an uphill task of discussing with patients and relatives that since you do not have a known disease entity, we can only offer palliative treatment. This includes locally applied or oral medication and focal hot water fomentation to reduce inflammation. #Yoga and breathing exercises early in the day help reduce joint stiffness. Of note, Fabiflu tablets can lead to symptomatic hyperuricemia (joint aches that can be attributed to high uric acid levels). We treat this with anti-inflammatories initially and later with uric acid-lowering medication over the next few months.
Many patients take anti-inflammatory medication to help control pain brought on by the #virus. While the medication may be helpful, it may also suppress symptoms such as #fever, which would help diagnose the infection itself. For this reason, you should consult your regular physician if you are experiencing any virus-like symptoms before starting or continuing anti-inflammatory medication. You should also be aware that bone or joint pain may be caused by other conditions in the body. Inflammatory processes such as bursitis, tendinitis, or even a gout attack (high uric acid) are just a few of the things that can cause musculoskeletal pain. Muscle aches are also a known side effect of a few medications (like some cholesterol-lowering drugs). Some patients may also experience symptoms as a side effect of the COVID-19 #vaccine. These are usually temporary and resolve after a few days.
The moral of the story; be aware of your symptoms! If you have any questions about pain or other symptoms relating to your bones or joints, contact your Orthopaedic surgeon. Earlier the better!
For a consultation with an Orthopaedic surgeon, please contact #TheKneeClinic on ph +91 9136401071 or click on the website link