Time course prevalence of post-COVID pain symptoms of musculoskeletal origin in patients who had survived severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Pain. 2022 Jul 1;163(7):1220-1231. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002496. Epub 2021 Sep 23.


The aim of this review or meta-analysis is to synthesize the prevalence of post-coronavirus disease (COVID) pain symptoms of musculoskeletal origin in hospitalized or nonhospitalized patients recovered from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. MEDLINE, CINAHL, PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science databases, as well as medRxiv and bioRxiv preprint servers were searched up to May 1, 2021. Studies or preprints reporting data on post-COVID pain symptoms such as myalgias, arthralgias, or chest pain after SARS-CoV-2 infection and collected by personal, telephonic, or electronical interview were included. The methodological quality of the studies was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Random-effects models were used for meta-analytical pooled prevalence of each post-COVID musculoskeletal pain symptom. Data synthesis was categorized at onset or hospital admission and at 30, 60, and 90, and ≥180 days after. From a total of 12,123 studies identified, 27 peer-reviewed studies and 6 preprints were included. The sample included 14,639 hospitalized and 11,070 nonhospitalized COVID-19 patients. The methodological quality of almost 70% studies was fair. The overall prevalence of post-COVID myalgia, joint pain, and chest pain ranged from 5.65% to 18.15%, 4.6% to 12.1%, and 7.8% to 23.6%, respectively, at different follow-up periods during the first year postinfection. Time trend analysis showed a decrease prevalence of musculoskeletal post-COVID pain from the symptom's onset to 30 days after, an increase 60 days after, but with a second decrease ≥180 days after. This meta-analysis has shown that almost 10% of individuals infected by SARS-CoV-2 will suffer from musculoskeletal post-COVID pain symptomatology at some time during the first year after the infection.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / complications
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Chest Pain
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • SARS-CoV-2