Evidence is showing that many people who are recovering from COVID 19 experience significant on-going health problems, including pain and sensations like numbness or tingling.
Pain can be defined as:
“Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience that can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life, general health, psychological health, and social and economic wellbeing” (NICE Guidance, 2013)
Pain is very complex and there are many reasons why you might experience pain. We are all familiar with ‘acute’ pain which occurs as a result of an injury like a sprained ankle. This type of pain will normally have resolved within 3 months. However for some people, pain can last longer and can become more chronic (or persistent). This type of pain is more to do with changes that can occur in the nervous system of the body. The nervous system becomes more ‘sensitive’ and can become more effective at delivering pain signals.
Watch this video if you would like to know more about persistent or chronic pain.
Living with pain can be very distressing, but there are ways you can learn to manage pain. Just like other symptoms of COVID 19, taking a pacing approach to pain management can be helpful. Setting realistic goals (that are important to you) is a great starting point. This could be working through the graded exercise videos here or could be setting a goal around self-care, a hobby, or looking after your mental wellbeing. The most important thing to remember is not to do too much, too quickly as this can risk setting you back and can knock your confidence. Getting advice on using pain medication effectively can also be part of your pain management plan.
The effects of stress, anxiety and depression (like in many other conditions) are closely linked to pain. Sometimes it can be helpful to think of pain as like a volume switch. There may be things that you find ‘turn up’ (or amplify) the volume of your pain, like certain movements, activities or when you are feeling stressed. Practicing strategies that can help us to cope with stress and help with wellbeing can also be helpful for managing pain too.
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