Pain Burden in Post-COVID-19 Syndrome following Mild COVID-19 Infection

J Clin Med. 2022 Jan 31;11(3):771. doi: 10.3390/jcm11030771.


The global pandemic of SARS-CoV-2 has affected several hundred million people, and many infected people have suffered from a milder initial infection but have never fully recovered. This observational study investigates the pain burden in sufferers of post-COVID-19 syndrome after a milder initial infection. One hundred post-COVID-19 patients filled out questionnaires regarding sociodemographic data, previous comorbidities, present pharmacological treatment, pain intensity and pain localisation. Health-related quality of life, fatigue, emotional status, and insomnia were measured by validated questionnaires. Multiple post-COVID-19 symptoms, including post-exertional malaise, were evaluated by a symptom questionnaire. Among the 100 participants (mean age 44.5 years), 82% were women, 61% had higher education, and 56% were working full or part time. Nine participants reported previous pain or inflammatory conditions. Among the most painful sites were the head/face, chest, lower extremities, and migrating sites. Generalised pain was self-reported by 75 participants and was estimated in 50 participants. Diagnosis of fibromyalgia according to the 2016 criteria was suspected in 40 participants. Subgroup analyses indicated that comorbidities might play a role in the development of pain. In conclusion, a major part of sufferers from post-COVID-19 syndrome develop pain, and in addition to its many disabling symptoms, there is an urgent need for pain management in post-COVID-19 syndrome.

Keywords: chronic pain; comorbidities; fatigue; fibromyalgia; medication; post-COVID-19 syndrome; post-exertional malaise; quality of life; widespread pain.