COVID-19 and the Spine

COVID-Related Back Pain and Spine Issues

We have been living through a difficult time of COVID-19 impacting our social lives, jobs, families, celebrations, businesses, and so much more since March of 2020. This past week, Dr. Dan Nemeth did an interview with a local journalist about his specialty and approach to care especially during COVID-19. In this interview, the journalist asked many questions about Dr. Nemeth’s current patients and how COVID has affected not only his patients but also his practice.

This week’s blog features a few of those questions from the interview as well as answering the question, can COVID cause back pain? While health care providers are still learning about the effects of this virus, we will help answer questions based on what Dr. Nemeth has experienced as a board-certified physiatrist that owns his own practice as well as research on direct and indirect effects that COVID has had on individuals.  

Can COVID Cause Low Back Pain?

While we know back pain is one of the most commonly treated conditions by physiatrists, many specialists have seen an increase in back pain in patients during COVID-19. While we know that COVID-19 has many symptoms, back pain related to COVID-19 may feel different than pain from overexertion and may last for days or weeks (Parikh & Flemin, 2021). Because the extended pain may lead to a person having to recover in bed, the back pain may occur due to the deconditioning of the muscles and altered spinal biomechanics (Parikh & Flemin, 2021). The causes of back pain have not changed; however, people’s habits and lifestyles have due to increased time at home, such as working from home. People working from home may not have great support in their chairs, couches, or bed, which may cause disc herniations or muscle strain (Parikh & Flemin, 2021). Changes in daily routines including exercising, walking to work, and more may also contribute with the decreased movement.

COVID Questions with Dr. Nemeth:

At Signe Spine & Rehab, Dr. Nemeth comments that he has seen many patients that are out of their routines and exercises; therefore, creating deconditioning and a weaker core. While people are trying to get back out and do what they once were, injury may occur due to this deconditioning. As we know, we are learning more about COVID-19 each day. Dr. Nemeth discusses implementing evidence-based recommendations regarding COVID-19 to include takes precautions regarding doing certain procedures within a certain timeframe of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination in order to assure efficacy of it.

Another area that Dr. Nemeth comments on is regarding offering telehealth for patients. A year ago, Signe Spine & Rehab was solely providing telehealth visits as the pandemic was first occurring. While not all patients are suitable for a telehealth visit, Dr. Nemeth and his team have continued this type of visit to maintain social distance and follow up with patients after certain procedures to ensure their treatment plan is effective.

Watch the full interview at the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2PeieWdUTU (YouTube, 2021).

Tips for Preventing and Treating COVID-related Back Pain:

To help prevent COVID-related back pain, read below for a few tips.

  1. Get Up and Move: Find a type of exercise or movement that you enjoy, such as stretching, yoga, Pilates, or low-impact cardio.
  2. Re-Establish Your Daily Routine: While life is starting to get back to normal, try to re-establish a daily routine to help incorporate movement, such as stretching or walking breaks, and increase sedentary activity levels even if you are still working from home or choose to stay at home.
  3. Reduce Your Stress: COVID-19 has been a stressful time for many individuals. Stress, lack of sleep, and anxiety can contribute to pain in the body. Prioritize self-care to help decrease your stress by meditation, journaling, or other calming activities of choice.
  4. Set Yourself up for Success: As stated prior, working and staying at home may not be the best set up for back pain. Focus on your posture, invest in a lumbar pillow or more supportive desk chair, and set up a comfortable and supportive workspace to help with back pain.

Overall, COVID has impacted so many lives in many ways including increased back pain. While mild back pain can get better on its own, a physician should evaluate any persistent or severe back pain. Some patients may still be concerned about visiting a physician in office; however, many offices are still enforcing social distancing, masks wearing, heightened cleaning precautions, and patient screenings, such as Signe Spine & Rehab.

Call us today at 843-730-4124 to set up a New Patient Appointment for an evaluation of your back pain and learn about your treatment options.

References:

Parikh, S., & Fleming, T. (2021, May 7). Can COVID-19 Cause Back Pain? - Health Topics, Physical Rehabilitation. Hackensack Meridian Health. https://www.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/HealthU/2021/03/15/can-covid-19-cause-back-pain/.

YouTube. (2021). Exclusive- Dr. Daniel Nemeth interview- Quintin's Close-Ups™. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2PeieWdUTU.

Author
Signe Spine Team Contributor

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