back pain

Aching for Answers: Understanding COVID Back Pain

Back pain – it’s a common woe that plagues millions worldwide. But in the age of COVID-19, a simple backache can take on a new layer of worry.  Can COVID cause backaches? Is it a sign of infection or something more serious?  This article dives deep into the world of COVID-19 backaches, addressing the questions you’ve been searching for.

Is backaches a Symptom of COVID-19?

The answer is yes, backaches can be a symptom of COVID-19. Studies show that roughly 20% of people infected with the virus experience body aches and muscle pain, including back pain. This pain can manifest in various ways, from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing sensation, and can affect both the lower and upper back.

There are two main reasons why COVID-19 might cause back pain:

  • Myalgia: This is a fancy term for muscle pain, a common symptom of viral infections. When your body fights off COVID-19, your immune system goes into overdrive, releasing inflammatory chemicals that can irritate your muscles, leading to pain and aches.
  • Inflammation: COVID-19 can trigger widespread inflammation throughout the body, which can affect not only muscles but also joints, tendons, and other tissues in the back. This inflammation can contribute to pain, stiffness, and discomfort.

When Does backaches Occur with COVID-19?

backaches associated with COVID-19 can occur at different stages of the illness:

  • Early Symptoms: backaches can be one of the first signs of a COVID-19 infection, appearing alongside fever, fatigue, and cough.
  • During Illness: Muscle aches, including backaches, are a frequent complaint throughout the disease.
  • Long COVID: backaches can be a persistent symptom for some individuals who develop long COVID, a condition where symptoms linger for weeks or months after the initial infection.

How to Differentiate COVID backaches from Other Causes

backaches is a widespread issue, and COVID-19 isn’t the only culprit. Here are some ways to differentiate COVID backaches from other causes:

  • Accompanying Symptoms: If your backaches appear alongside classic COVID-19 symptoms like fever, cough, fatigue, or loss of taste or smell, it’s more likely COVID-related.
  • Sudden Onset: Does the pain come on abruptly, seemingly out of nowhere? This could be a sign of COVID-induced myalgia.
  • Overall Feeling: COVID backaches are often described as a generalized achiness throughout the muscles rather than a sharp, localized pain that might indicate a specific injury.

Important Note: While the information above can provide clues, it’s not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you experience backaches and suspect it might be COVID-related, especially if accompanied by other symptoms,  get tested and consult a healthcare professional.

Living with COVID backaches-Tips for Relief

If you’re battling COVID backaches, fear not! Here are some strategies to manage the discomfort and promote healing:

  • Rest: Your body is fighting a battle. Prioritize getting enough sleep and taking breaks throughout the day to allow your muscles to recover.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) can help manage pain and inflammation. Follow dosage instructions carefully.
  • Heat and Ice Therapy: Applying heat with a heating pad or a warm compress can soothe tight muscles. Conversely, ice packs can reduce inflammation, especially during the early stages of pain. Alternate between heat and ice for 15-20 minute intervals.
  • Gentle Stretching and Movement: While complete rest is tempting, staying completely inactive can worsen stiffness. Gentle stretches and light movement can help improve blood flow and promote healing. Consult a physical therapist for guidance on safe exercises suitable for your condition.
  • Maintain good posture: Whether sitting, standing, or lying down, practising good posture helps take pressure off your back and minimizes pain.

Long COVID and Persistent backaches

For some individuals, backaches becomes a long-term companion after a COVID infection. This is a hallmark symptom of long COVID, a complex condition where various symptoms, including muscle pain, fatigue, and difficulty breathing, persist for months or even years after the initial infection.

If you suspect you have long COVID,  consult your doctor. There’s currently no one-size-fits-all treatment, but your doctor can develop a personalized management plan to address your specific symptoms. Therapies like physical therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and pain management techniques can offer significant relief.


Q: Can COVID-19 cause back pain?

A: Yes, backaches is a recognized symptom of both acute COVID-19 infection and long COVID (post-COVID conditions). Studies suggest up to 20% of people with COVID experience back pain.

Q: Why does COVID cause back pain?

A: The exact reason remains under investigation, but two main theories exist:

  • Myalgia: This is a general term for muscle pain, which is a common symptom of viral infections. COVID-19 could trigger an inflammatory response leading to muscle aches, including in the back.
  • Inflammation: COVID-19 can cause inflammation throughout the body, potentially affecting muscles, joints, and tendons in the back, resulting in pain.

Q: What kind of backaches is associated with COVID?

A:  People with COVID-related back pain often describe it as:

  • Aching
  • Dull
  • Throbbing
  • Located in the lower or upper back
  • Can be accompanied by muscle stiffness

Q: How long does COVID backaches last?

A: The duration varies. In acute COVID, backaches typically improves alongside other symptoms within a few days or weeks. However, with long COVID, backaches can persist for months or even longer.

Q: How can I tell if my backaches is from COVID?

A: backaches is a common complaint, and COVID isn’t the only culprit. Here are some clues:

  • Other COVID symptoms: If you have a fever, cough, fatigue, or other COVID symptoms alongside backaches, it increases the possibility of COVID-19 being the cause.
  • Recent COVID diagnosis: If you recently tested positive for COVID, your backaches are likely related.

Q:  When should I see a doctor for COVID backaches?

A: See a doctor if:

  • backaches are severe or don’t improve with home remedies.
  • You have backaches along with concerning symptoms like fever, shortness of breath, or chest pain.
  • backaches significantly impacts your daily activities.

Q: How can I manage COVID backaches at home?

A: Here are some strategies to find relief:

  • Rest: Give your body time to heal.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: Consider medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to manage pain.
  • Heat or ice therapy: Apply heat or ice packs to the affected area for short intervals (20 minutes) to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Gentle stretching and exercise: Staying active can help improve blood flow and reduce stiffness, but avoid strenuous activity.

Q: Are there long-term treatment options for COVID backaches?

A: If your backaches persists long after the COVID-19 infection, your doctor may recommend physical therapy, medication adjustments, or other treatments depending on the cause and severity of your pain.

Remember: This FAQ provides general information. Always consult a healthcare professional for diagnosis and personalized treatment advice.

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