A clinical primer for the expected and potential post-COVID-19 syndromes

Pain Rep. 2021 Feb 16;6(1):e887. doi: 10.1097/PR9.0000000000000887. eCollection 2021 Jan-Feb.


In late 2019, a novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) spread unchecked across the world's population. With tens of millions infected, the long-term consequences of COVID-19 infection will be a major health care focus for years after the contagion subsides. Most complications stem from direct viral invasion provoking an over-exuberant inflammatory response driven by innate immune cells and activation of the clotting cascade causing thrombosis. Injury to individual organs and their protective linings are frequent presentations in respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological systems. Reviewing the historical context of postviral fatiguing symptoms seems relevant to understanding reports of uneven recoveries and persistent symptoms that are emerging as "long-haul COVID-19." The pandemic is also an unprecedented sociocultural event, transforming how people consider their health, gather in groups, and navigate their daily lives. The unprecedented sociocultural stresses of the pandemic will have an invisible, ubiquitous, and predictable impact on neurologic, endocrine, and immune functioning, even in people untouched by the virus. COVID-19 may also have a surprise or two in store, with unique clinical presentations and novel mechanisms of injury which are yet to clearly emerge. Although challenging and unfortunate, these times also represent a unique opportunity to start to unravel the physiology that underlie how viruses may trigger cancers, neurological disease, and postviral fatiguing syndromes.

Keywords: COVID-19; Complications; Fatigue; Long haulers; Post-COVID syndrome; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Review