COVID-19 Symptom: Back Pain
Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team
- Back pain from COVID-19 may be caused by myalgia, which is a common symptom of viral infections.
- Both lower and upper back pain can be possible due to COVID-19.
- Back pain after COVID-19 is often caused by immobilization throughout your illness.
COVID and back pain have been a topic of discussion since the beginning of the pandemic. As there are a lot of people who have noticed lower or upper back pain related to COVID-19, we’ve created this article for you in which we discuss how back pain can be part of a COVID infection, which steps you can take to treat COVID back pain at home and how long it may last.
Does COVID cause back pain?
Back pain is a symptom that is often reported by those who have fallen ill due to the coronavirus. The primary source of this back pain stems from myalgia, which is characterized by muscle aches and pain. Myalgia is a common symptom of viral infections such as COVID-19 and may affect a certain area of the body, such as the back, or may spread more widely. One of the causes for this myalgia may be the reaction of the immune system, which releases pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which can cause the onset of body aches such as back pain. 1 2
Usually, COVID-19 will cause upper back pain. This can especially be the case if you’ve had to cough a lot, which can put stress on the joints of the upper back. This upper back pain is usually noticeable between the shoulder blades.3
Besides the back pain you can experience while being infected with the coronavirus, there are also several reports of people experiencing back pain after COVID. This can especially be the case after being hospitalized or immobile due to illness, which may cause the back muscles to cramp up.
Back pain can be a sign of COVID, but it’s essential to consider other symptoms as well, as back pain is quite a common symptom and can have various causes besides COVID-19. Developing back pain with symptoms like cough and fever could indicate other illnesses like cold and flu.
What does COVID-19 back pain feel like?
Common back pain can take on many forms, so it’s important to know what COVID-19 back pain usually feels like. In most cases, it’s a deep and persistent pain not eased by a change in your posture. It does remain important to check for common symptoms of COVID-19, such as: 5 6 7
How long does COVID back pain last?
Back pain from COVID can last quite a while. It may start during your illness or in the weeks afterward. It’s one of the most common symptoms of long COVID. If you notice that your back keeps bothering you weeks after your COVID-19 infection, you should contact your healthcare provider or physiotherapist for advice and treatment.
Chronic back pain with COVID may be explained because of the affinity that the coronavirus has to bind to ACE2 receptors. This enables the virus to enter our cells and cause damage. One of the places where the virus can enter is the neural tissue, which may trigger chronic pain syndromes such as back pain.1
How to relieve COVID back pain
- Stay active: in most cases, upper back pain caused by COVID-19 is due to the inactivity of the muscles in your back. Participating in light daily activity and stretching these muscles can help you regain mobility.
- You can find temporary relief in over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen, paracetamol, naproxen, or creams, which you can find at your local pharmacy. However, it's crucial also to address the cause of your back pain.
- Physiotherapy: getting help from a healthcare provider can help you find relief from your back pain. This will usually be a combination of massage techniques and exercises which help you strengthen your back muscles again.
- Temperature therapy: applying heat to your back can help boost blood circulation and reduce stiffness.
- Make lifestyle changes: a sedentary lifestyle can induce back pain, so it's essential to stay active. It's also important to pay attention to ergonomy when working, driving, or lifting weights.
Back pain can be a symptom of COVID-19 as viruses such as the coronavirus may cause body aches and muscle pain, which can be situated in the upper or lower back. As back pain can occur for several reasons, it's also essential to consider your other symptoms.
Q: How to sleep with COVID back pain?
A: Sleeping with COVID back pain may be difficult. You may find relief by sleeping on your side with your hips and knees partially bent, which helps take pressure off the lower back.
Q: Is back pain a COVID symptom?
A: Both lower and upper back pain can be symptoms of COVID-19, as back pain can be caused by myalgia or excessive coughing, which may both be present due to an infection with the coronavirus.
Q: Is backache a symptom of the new COVID variant?
A: Backache may be a symptom of any COVID variant, as the viral infection can cause body aches and muscle pain, which can be situated at the back.
Q: How to treat COVID back pain?
A: There are several things that you can do to relieve COVID back pain, such as staying active, going to physiotherapy, making lifestyle changes, and taking over-the-counter painkillers.