COVID Body Aches: How to Treat Muscle Aches and Pains Caused by COVID-19

Older woman sitting on couch holding her joints and grimacing.
  • Muscle aches and joint pain are both symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Body aches can be caused by your immune system’s response to the COVID-19 virus. As it fights the infection, the body produces certain cells that can cause muscle and joint discomfort.

  • Treatment options for body aches related to COVID-19 include physical therapy, over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, drinking fluids, and rest.

What are COVID Body Aches?

If you have COVID-19 or you’ve recently recovered from the virus, you may be experiencing muscle aches and joint pain.

Research we has found that over 62% of COVID patients experience body aches during both the time of infection and the recovery process.

What do these body aches feel like?

The body aches related to COVID-19 can either feel like a dull or sharp pain in one or more areas throughout the body.

The pain may be consistent — meaning it never goes away — or it may come and go throughout the day.

This flu-like pain can range from mild to severe. It might feel like your muscles are tight, or the pain may radiate throughout your entire body.

Other than body aches, what are the common symptoms of COVID?

If you have COVID-19, body aches are often accompanied by other symptoms, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches

Symptoms can differ from one person to the next, but these are the most common signs that you may have COVID-19.

It’s worth noting that if you have a bad cough due to COVID-19, this can also cause pain in the body as coughing can strain your muscles.

What causes COVID body aches?

Although there is plenty of research being conducted on this common symptom, the exact cause of body aches related to COVID-19 is currently unknown.

Some researchers believe that muscle aches and joint pain are side effects of COVID due to the body’s immune response to the virus.

As your body fights the viral infection, it can produce inflammatory cytokines — the cells in our body that fight infection and injury — which can cause body pain.

It’s also possible that you may not be getting any exercise or movement in your day while you rest and recover from COVID, which can result in less muscle and joint strength, also causing pain.

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When does muscle pain usually start during COVID-19?

Body aches and pains have been identified as a common symptom of COVID, and they can appear in the early stages of the virus.

Aches and pains in the body are now known as an early symptom, meaning you might experience them before any other COVID symptoms.

In fact, feeling tired and experiencing body aches are some of the first indicators that you have contracted the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seeking medical attention and getting tested for the virus if you experience any of these symptoms.

A doctor can prescribe treatment that can relieve your symptoms, helping to ease your pain and discomfort.

How long do body aches last with COVID?

This pain may last for a few weeks. However, depending on your age, it could last even longer.

Children may only experience body aches for four to five days, whereas adults may take over three months to recover from COVID body aches.

Additionally, if you have Long COVID — also known as Post-COVID syndrome — your pain may last even longer.

Treatment for COVID Body Aches

Here are some of the ways you can treat and relieve body pain caused by COVID-19:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers like ibuprofen may reduce inflammation and pain
  • Physical therapy has been proven to relieve the common symptoms of COVID
  • Drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and help your body’s natural healing process
  • Resting and sleeping as much as possible to help your body recover and heal

Remember to practice social distancing and self-isolation to ensure you don’t infect others with COVID-19.

What are Other Causes of Body Aches?

COVID isn’t the only cause of body aches and pains, so it’s important not to panic if you start to experience the symptoms described above.

Other causes of joint and muscle aches include:

  • Flu or a common cold
  • Side-effects of certain medications
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Other infectious diseases like mononucleosis or Lyme disease
  • Inflammation caused by illnesses such as arthritis or lupus
  • Muscle spasms or cramps

Where Can You Learn More About COVID Body Aches?

If you are concerned about body aches or other symptoms related to COVID-19, you can schedule a telehealth appointment with a board-certified doctor or nurse from the comfort of your home.

Head over to LifeMD to schedule a telehealth appointment today.

Shanta Williams, APRN

Shanta is a board-certified, multi-state NP who has worked in healthcare for over 14 years. She earned her M.S. in Family Nurse Practitioning. In 2020, she was one of the first Nurse Practitioners to assist with the COVID-19 outbreak in New York.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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