Post-Covid, science explains why the pain stays long

Post-Covid, science explains why the pain stays long

Muscle pain, chest pain, sore throat, headaches in those recovered from Covid: why these problems occur and how the virus works in the body

When we talk about post-Covid, or the picture that can affect various people who have overcome the Sars-CoV-2 virus infection in a more or less serious form, many of the problems that are reported are related to the appearance of pains that appear directly related to the infection. And they are very different from each other.

They range from the classic headache to the muscles that ache after a minimum effort, from the feeling of having a pain that can even remember that of the heart to an inexplicable stomach ache. Now science is able to describe what the virus is “doing” on this front during infection, as explained by the experts who met in Bologna at the congress of FederDolore-SICD (Italian Society of Pain Clinicians).

The journey of the virus through the nerves

Clinical studies show that about half of the patients who had the infection had to struggle with muscle pain, followed by acute headaches (6-21%), chest pain (2-21%), eye pain (16%), sore throat (5-17%) and abdominal (12%). And lately there are reports of problems that even affect the face. But how can the virus leave this legacy?

Through a long path that “moves” imperceptibly between the brain and the lung through a natural connection path, the vagus nerve. To say it is a research based on an important interdisciplinary collaboration of the Polo Universitario San Paolo in Milan would therefore explain why pain can arise later.

“The presence of the Sars-CoV-2 virus has been documented not only in the brain areas of breath control, but was detected in the study published in the Journal of Neurology, its path between lung and brain along the vagus nerve that controls various functions. body – explains Tommaso Bocci, researcher of the study born from the collaboration of neurologists, resuscitators and pathologists of the Aldo Ravelli Research Center of the University of Milan.

Since the first serious cases of Covid we have observed respiratory changes that were not justifiable only for pneumonia. The study confirmed the presence of the virus in the vagus nerve, which uses the new path of diffusion along the nerve fibers to trigger pain ”. Then?

“There are 3 ways that the virus can use to cause pain: the direct one, the one mediated by inflammation and as a consequence of the prolongation of the disease. When the inflammatory stimulus continues – intervenes Emanuele Piraccini, Pain Therapy, Bellaria Hospital AUSL Bologna – there are alterations to the nervous level with a chronicity that affects about 30% of patients. It has also been seen that patients already suffering from chronic pain if affected by Covid, have had a notable flare-up.

Furthermore, pain during Covid-19 infection has a negative effect on the entire course of the disease: just think that a patient who has chest pain and is unable to cough, can accumulate secretions in the lungs and can easily have infections or pneumonia “.

Pain relief? Complex

Unfortunately, the pain that appears after Covid-19 can last for weeks and even several months after the infection by the virus and manifests itself in very widespread.

“Unfortunately, the response to drug therapy has turned out to be low and also worries new painful syndromes in the face, such as trigeminal and occipital neuralgia involving the face and neck – explains Giuliano De Carolis, FederDolore-SICD President.

They are rarer, but the size of this new shape is increasing. We will have to equip ourselves to manage a new post-pandemic emergency that will see us busy both with patients who have had to deal with difficult access to care and with those who have developed chronic pain as a consequence of the infection. Those who have experienced chronic pain even months after the resolution of the infection correspond to about 4% of the most serious Covid patients, that is, those hospitalized or even intubated “.

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