There are a number of people left with Long Covid symptoms. Long Covid (aka Post-Covid Syndrome) is defined as symptoms of covid that last at least 4 weeks, but for some people they can last for months.
Before the vaccine roll-out, figures suggested that 1-5% of people infected with covid will have symptoms that affect their daily function for over 12 weeks. LC is more likely to affect older people, with women more affected than men and people with asthma more likely to develop it than the general population. Contrary to what you might expect, it was often the people who had a milder illness who then went on to develop LC. Interestingly, those with a broader range of symptoms in the early stages seemed to be more likely to get long covid.
Fortunately, people who do contract covid after vaccination are much less likely to develop LC. The WHO notes that the vaccine can cause short term side effects of muscle or joint pains or headaches. These pass quickly without intervention.
A study showed that some of the most common LC symptoms are fatigue, headaches, and joint and muscle aches. As such, we expect to see patients in clinic looking for a solution, whether or not they know that their symptoms are post-viral rather than more mechanical. At present there is no high quality information to identify symptoms more specific to LC than general aches and pains.
Some osteopaths help to manage the symptoms of people with CFS and ME. These conditions have been recognised as having similarities with LC and fibromyalgia. Success with these patients might mean there is something that can be done to help LC patients too.
Studies are underway to find medicinal strategies to help. Fortunately, LC is becoming better recognised in primary healthcare. The BMJ has published an article to suggest a multidisciplinary approach. Improving stamina and respiratory efficiency could be assisted by osteopathy. There are similarities between the way we breathe when stressed and when respiration is limited due to infection. In both scenarios, the diaphragm and the muscles in the shoulder (accessory muscles of respiration) work differently to normal. If we can encourage the diaphragm to relax and work more efficiently again, the shoulder muscles can relax off too. This might be a longer process when lung function is still limited, but relaxing these muscles can reduce neck pain and some headaches.
Exercise is recognised as a key part of fibromyalgia management. It is possible that a strong return to exercise is beneficial to long covid patients too. If we can help to improve breathing mechanics, as well as target any other persisting aches and pains, you may find it easier to get back to your exercise of choice.