Individuals who contract COVID-19 exhibit a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Although fever, cough, and shortness of breath have been the most commonly reported symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently updated the list to include a few more.
Muscle pain or myalgia is a surprising yet reported symptom even though COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. Health experts opine that body aches could be caused by several other factors outside of the illness.
Here’s everything you need to know about muscle pain and COVID-19:
- There is no clarity yet on how often a COVID-19 patient experiences muscle pain but research suggests that its more common than most individuals realize.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) recently reported that nearly 15% of COVID-19 patients experienced muscle aches.
- Although muscle pain is less commonly reported compared to other symptoms such as dry cough and fever, it is slightly more common than a headache, chills, and a sore throat.
- COVID-19-related muscle pain is usually different than the way one might feel after a hard bout of physical activity. It can persist for days, unlike the pain from working out which tends to ward off within a few hours.
- Also, muscle pain due to COVID-19 can be generalized and one can feel achy all over. But some have reported that the pain sticks around the lower back.
Why does the novel coronavirus cause muscle pain?
Although this particular symptom isn’t unique to COVID-19, health experts opine that several viral infections can cause muscle pain. When caused by viral infections, including COVID-19, muscle pain can occur after the virus stimulates a person’s immune system. During an infection, the body fights hard against pathogens and sets off inflammatory responses. This might result in muscle aches.
“The muscle aches and pains are a result of cells of the immune system releasing interleukins, which are proteins that help in the fight against invading pathogens,” Prevention quoted Richard Watkins, M.D., infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University.
But be informed that a muscle pain doesn’t mean one has COVID-19
Muscle pain could be a symptom of stress, injuries, or simply because the muscle hasn’t been used much lately. If one feels generally healthy, they aren’t probably dealing with a coronavirus infection.
But if you experience muscle pain alongside other symptoms such as dry cough, shortness of breath, and other COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, loss of smell or taste, etc, you should seek immediate medical attention.