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Post-COVID pain syndrome: a review of international observations

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The novel coronavirus infection is commonly referred to as COVID-19, sometimes by the name of the causative agent of a respiratory viral infection, as SARS-CoV-2. Frequently, the course of COVID-19 is divided into three main periods: acute COVID-19 (up to 4 weeks), post-acute COVID-19 (from 4 to 12 weeks), post-COVID (post-COVID; from 12 weeks to 6 months). If a more protracted course of COVID (over 6 months) is discussed, the term “long-COVID” is used. All observations demonstrated a high incidence of pain syndromes of various localization in the post-COVID period and long-COVID. According to survey data, 92.3% of patients with COVID-19 reported musculoskeletal problems at the time of admission. Pain syndrome is observed in 56.3% of cases 1 month after hospitalization. Three months after COVID-19, myalgia was observed in 40.55% of cases, joint pain in 39.18%, back pain in 31.62%, and lower back pain in 24.74%. After 6 months, joint pain continues to be observed in 18.59% of patients, myalgia – in 15.09%, back pain – in 14.39%, lower back pain – in 11.23%. In 50.8% of cases, patients reported new-onset pain, of which 38.5% had pain of moderate severity (≥3 points on the visual analog scale). Patients with new-onset pain during COVID had worse quality of life indicators and a negative correlation with the pain syndrome severity, which significantly hampered recovery. Data from a meta-analysis that included 47,910 patients with long-COVID and with a protracted course of COVID indicate that 19% of them had pain in the joints of various localization. The direct cytopathic effect of SARS-CoV-2 and the systemic immune inflammation that occurs in response to infection cause damage to the joint tissue. According to the Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients with the Consequences of COVID-19, it is recommended to use slow acting structure-modifying drugs – SYSADOA – in the pharmacological treatment regimen for patients with osteoarthritis, among which parenteral forms of pharmaceutically standardized drugs – chondroitin sulfate (CS) and glucosamine sulfate (GS) are preferred. GS and CS are inhibitors of the signaling cascade of the nuclear factor NF-κB, which is involved in the realization of biological effects of a pro-inflammatory cytokine (tumor necrosis factor α), the excessive activity of which is associated with the cytokine storm in COVID-19.

About the Authors

O. A. Shavlovskaya
International University of Restorative Medicine
Russian Federation

Olga Aleksandovna Shavlovskaya

8, Furmanny Ln., Build. 2, Moscow 105062, Russia

I. A. Bokova
I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (Sechenov University), Ministry of Health of Russia
Russian Federation

8, Trubetskaya St., Build. 2, Moscow 119991, Russia 

N. I. Shavlovskiy
I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (Sechenov University), Ministry of Health of Russia
Russian Federation

8, Trubetskaya St., Build. 2, Moscow 119991, Russia 


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For citations:

Shavlovskaya O.A., Bokova I.A., Shavlovskiy N.I. Post-COVID pain syndrome: a review of international observations. Neurology, Neuropsychiatry, Psychosomatics. 2022;14(2):91-97. (In Russ.)

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ISSN 2074-2711 (Print)
ISSN 2310-1342 (Online)