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Neck Pain COVID: Exploring the Link Between Two Common Health Concerns

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

In recent times, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected various aspects of our lives, including our physical and mental well-being. While much attention has been given to the respiratory symptoms associated with COVID-19, there is also emerging evidence of its impact on musculoskeletal health. One common issue that individuals have reported is neck pain, which can be both debilitating and distressing. In this article, we will delve into the link between neck pain and COVID, explore the potential causes, and discuss effective strategies for managing neck pain with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.

Neck Pain
Neck Pain

The Connection Between Neck Pain and COVID

The COVID-19 virus primarily affects the respiratory system, leading to symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, and fever. However, research suggests that the virus may also have an impact on other parts of the body, including the musculoskeletal system. Neck pain, in particular, has been reported by a significant number of COVID-19 patients. While the exact mechanisms behind this connection are still being investigated, several factors could contribute to the occurrence of neck pain in individuals with COVID-19.

Potential Causes of Neck Pain in COVID-19 Patients

  1. Postural Changes: Prolonged periods of bed rest or reduced physical activity due to illness can lead to poor posture, which puts additional strain on the neck muscles and joints. This can result in neck pain and discomfort.

  2. Inflammatory Response: COVID-19 triggers an inflammatory response in the body, which can affect various tissues, including those in the neck region. Inflammation in the neck muscles or joints may lead to pain and stiffness.

  3. Psychological Factors: The pandemic has brought about significant psychological stress for many individuals. Stress, anxiety, and depression can contribute to muscle tension and exacerbate existing neck pain.

Neck Pain in Chinese Medicine:

Chinese Medicine
Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine was developed thousands of years ago, way before the invention of microscopies or before the discovery of microorganisms infection like bacteria or viruses. But in Chiese Medicine, respiratory viruses are known as " Exterior-Wind-Cold" or "Exterior-Wind -Heat."

When this"Exterior-Wind" pathogenic factor attack the body's "Defensive Qi" or immune system. One of the effects of this attack is the obstruction of the circulation of the "Defensive Qi," resulting in occipital headaches and body aches as "Defensive Qi" loses its capacity to circulate in the space between the skin and the muscle, appearing muscle pain soreness and stiffness.

It would be normal to experience neck pain and suffer a stiff neck.

So covid 19 cause neck pain like any other respiratory virus, and patients will feel stiff neck or shoulder pains.

Since this virus infection is so strong, it is easy to see this persistent symptom in long covid.

Strategies for Managing Neck Pain during COVID-19

Dealing with neck pain during the COVID-19 pandemic requires a comprehensive approach that addresses both physical and mental well-being. Here are some strategies that can help alleviate neck pain and promote overall musculoskeletal health:

1. Maintain a Good Posture

  • Ensure that your workstation is ergonomically set up if you are working from home, and avoid experiencing pain positions.

  • Sit in a chair with proper back support and keep your monitor at eye level.

  • Take regular breaks to stretch and change positions.

2. Stay Physically Active

  • Engage in regular exercise to improve overall muscle strength and flexibility.

  • Incorporate neck-specific exercises into your routine, such as neck stretches and gentle rotations. Find a good physical therapist who helps you reduce this persistent symptom of stiff neck and muscle pain.

  • Consider low-impact activities like yoga, physical therapy, or swimming to reduce strain on the neck.

3. Manage Stress and Mental Well-being

  • Practice stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness exercises.

  • Stay socially connected with friends and loved ones through virtual means.

  • Seek professional help if you are experiencing significant psychological distress with this persistent symptom.

4. Acupuncture

TCM may be an effective way of medical care for alleviating this long covid stiff neck.

If you experience neck pain with inflammation in your muscles, acupuncture, cupping, and guasha can help you reduce your symptoms, healing or reducing your aches considerably.

Points like Lu 7 + Kid 6, Li 4, Sj 5, GB 20, Du 13, etc., can be used to disperse "External Wind" and alleviate long covid stiff neck.

5. Chinee Herbal Medicine

Chinese Herbs
Chinese Herbs

A person who experiences neck pain and soreness as a symptom of long covid can also look for help from a TCM doctor as alternative medical attention and get a custom Chinese Medicine Herbal Formula that addresses their symptoms to reduce this chronic stiffness and soreness.

A classic formula can be Ge Gen Tang (Kudzu Decoction) which is very effective in treating "Taiyang syndrome" with wind-cold invasion: severe muscle stiffness of the neck and back, aversion to cold, with or without fever, aversion to wind, absence of perspiration, and diarrhea.

Your Traditional Chinese Medical doctor should adjust the formula to your specific personal characteristics to make it more efficient, reducing the pain, soreness, and stiffness symptom of long covid.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can COVID-19 directly cause neck pain?

While COVID-19 primarily affects the respiratory system, neck pain has been reported in some individuals. The exact relationship between the virus and neck pain is still being studied.

How long does neck pain from COVID-19 usually last?

The duration of neck pain can vary among individuals. It may resolve on its own within a few days or weeks, but some people can experience neck pain and soreness for a long time, even months.

Which is the best way to treat this pain, soreness, and stiffness symptom of long covid?

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine can be effective treatments to reduce any musculoskeletal pain. Contact a professional Licensed Acupuncturist to evaluate your condition and find the best way to help you.


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