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Covid and lower back pain is common.

Covid and lower back pain is common.

Dr. Michael Derry, DPT, PT, OCS Jacksonville, Florida
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Lower back pain is becoming recognized as one of the more common symptoms of COVID. You might be wondering why COVID, an airborne virus, would even cause you to have lower back pain in the first place. So let’s dive in to better understand why your back may be aching if you do have COVID-19 and what you can do about it.

Is Lower back pain common with COVID? 

The short answer is yes! Lower back pain can be very common with Covid. In fact, when I treat people who have had covid, they often report that they had a great deal of achyness but it resolved when they started feeling themselves again.

This is great news right? What I found interesting is that people started realizing that they didn't necessarily take great care of their bodies which has been shown to increase your symptoms and hospitalizations with covid. It’s important to make yourself more resilient by improving your health.

While lower back pain is common, some may not have any pain related to covid at all.

There is a large amount of variability with symptoms. Personally, when I have covid, I did experience a fair amount of lower back pain. With that said, the pain was more related to muscle aches and felt better with time. Covid doesn’t do damage to your lower back! You may feel like you need an MRI but that is most likely not the case!


How does COVID cause lower back pain?

Lower back pain can be caused by many factors that are often movement related. And, with these past few years making it so easy to be a sloth at home, your lower back pain may very well be the result of not enough activity. Working from home has made a lot of people more sedentary than they were in the past.

When you have Covid, your immune system gets activated and as a result the amount of inflammation in your body increases. Inflammation can impact your joints and give you that deep, achy sensation with muscle pain. In my experience, I had aching in my lower back and hips. They were sore and body aches with Covid aren't but they do pass. What I noticed is that when I moved, I felt better.

The other way that Covid can result in lower back pain is less direct. When you have Covid, you don’t feel great. And when you don’t feel great, the last thing you feel like doing is moving.

Without frequent movement throughout your day, the joints and muscles in your lower back don’t get the circulation and stimulation that helps them thrive. You may feel stiff or sore, especially in the morning. So this vicious cycle of inactivity from not feeling well only increases your lower back pain. This is something that I notice in my chronic pain patients. Chronic lower back pain can be debilitating and keep you from wanting to move, let alone exercise. Gentle exercise is often a great place to start!

How to relief covid back pain?

I know it can be overwhelming to deal with lower back pain on your own while you’re quarantined. But let me reassure you that you can find relief. Here are 3 things that I used to help with my lower back pain while I had Covid.

  1. Hot Pack. The warmth from the hot pack or heating pad can be helpful to relax musculature around your back muscles. Hot showers usually feel really good as well! Be aware you don't want to raise your body temperature more if you have a fever.
  2. Walking. Short walks can make all the difference. It can improve your mood, energy, and help break up some of mucus.
  3. Mobility. Mobility work for your lower back focuses on targeting small joints in your back to help with that stiffness or achiness you may feel in your lower back. Here is a great place to start if you want to improve your back stiffness on your own in your home!

Here are 3 ways you can keep your lower back strong and have less lower back pain after COVID:

While prioritizing restoring your health is the first priority if you have COVID, you can’t forget the other potential side effects that could come from those 10 days of quarantine.

What should you do for your lower back when recovered from COVID?

Now that you are recovered from covid, it is important to make your body more resilient! Especially, if you are older than 50! Building strength and resiliency is important!

If you stayed on the couch and watch endless reruns of Friends for 10 days straight, you are going to have problems. The human body craves movement because it is essential for maintaining your muscle mass and keeping your heart and lungs happy.

As a physical therapist, what I wish people did at home during Covid is to keep your body moving in whatever way you can. This doesn’t have to look like a complex exercise routine. Walking is most recommended but make sure you listen to your body.

When things are feeling better you should be aiming for at least 150 minutes of mild to moderate activity each week. That's only a few minutes each day! A great place to start may be a “movement snack” in the form of air squats or a few laps around the house every time you get up. The goal should be 150 minutes a week! This has been shown to help you live longer and reduce the severity of Covid! The easiest way is to include resistance training and aerobic exercises. This is most easily done with a band and starting with walking. If you are looking for a safe and effective workout for your back pain.

Remember, some movement is always better than none.
Lower back pain and covid
Lower back pain with covid

So what do I do now?

So first things first, close that WebMD browser down and take a deep breath. If you have Covid and you are not feeling well make sure to contact your primary care provider.

If you are experiencing lower back pain you can take actions to feel better staring now including the tips above as well as teaming up with a movement professional such as a physical therapist to help you feel better and build your resiliency.

Want to know more about low back pain?

If you’re looking to better understand what is causing your lower back pain and what you can do to get back to living the life you want, then you’re in the right place! Be sure to subscribe to my blog, so you can be notified of new blogs packed with information to help empower you to take care of your lower back.  

In conclusion, covid can cause a variety of symptoms including lower back pain. The virus can impact your entire body. The great news is that nearly everyone recovered and their back ashiness and soreness improves. Mobility and gentle exercise can help lower back pain in most cases. Time combined with taking care of your body is a great remedy. That said, once you are recovered it may be time to deidicate some time and effort into improving yourself so you can treat and prevent lower back pain. This can include core strengthening, check out my book, or physical therapy! 

Revision Health Services offers telehealth for Florida residents as well as massage and physical therapy locally in Jacksonville, Nocatee, and St. Johns, Florida. To find out if our services could be the best fit for you, reach out and let's chat!

Until next time, stay healthy, keep moving, and take care of yourself.

Dr. Michael Derry is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and board certified in orthopedics. He is very passionate about treating lower back pain and helping people build their resiliency. He has spent time assisting at universities as well as managing large clinics before starting his own practice in Jacksonville, FL.

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