Can COVID Cause Pain in Your Knees, Hips & Other Joints?

Can COVID Cause Pain in Your Knees, Hips & Other Joints?

April 02, 2020

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Ahmed Siddiqi, D.O.

COVID-19 is characterized by a variety of symptoms—some common to respiratory illness (fever, cough, runny nose) and others altogether strange (loss of taste and smell and “foggy brain”). Although some COVID-19 patients have complained of joint pain, new research has quantified the prevalence of the symptom and is beginning to reveal the causes behind it.

“As more people are infected with the novel coronavirus and recover, more is known about the different ways it affects the human body,” says Ahmed Siddiqi, D.O., an adult reconstruction orthopedic surgeon at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and JFK University Medical Center.

What Does the Research Say?

Recent research published in The Lancet in October 2020 finds that nearly 15 percent of COVID-19 patients report experiencing joint pain. “Viral infections are a known cause of acute arthralgia [joint pain] and arthritis,” the authors of the research write. “Approximately 1 percent of all cases of acute inflammatory arthritis have a viral origin.”

A different study, carried out at Northwestern University and published in Skeletal Radiology in February 2021, finds that the COVID virus can trigger the body to attack itself in different ways that could lead to rheumatological issues.

Research findings are not necessarily surprising, says Dr. Siddiqi. “Inflammatory joint disease can occur from a systemic viral infection that stimulates a widespread immune response throughout the body, which includes both muscle aches and joint pain,” he says. “Inflammatory arthritis can be caused by autoimmune conditions or sometimes viral infections, and it can be felt in the knees, shoulders, ankles, wrists and hips.”

What to Do if You Are Experiencing Joint Pain

If you are experiencing pain in your knees, hips or other joints—whether or not you have had COVID-19—talk to your doctor. “If your doctor determines that you have infectious arthritis, they might prescribe medications or suggest having joint fluid drained,” Dr. Siddiqi says.

Other options for treating joint pain include:

  • Applying ice and heat and resting
  • Physical therapy
  • Staying active
  • Over-the-counter medication
  • Prescription medications
  • Supplements
  • Losing weight

“Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about your symptoms. We are here to help,” says Dr. Siddiqi. “Your doctor will work with you to recommend the best pain management option and treatment option for you.”

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

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