Over the past two months, many people I know have gotten COVID, even two in my own household. Luckily, most people are recovering quickly, but what happens when symptoms persist over 4 weeks?
Throughout the pandemic, health care providers have recognized that some people continue to have symptoms long past the initial infection. These symptoms are now recognized by many names, Post-COVID Syndrome, Long COVID, Long Haulers, PASC (Post Acute Sequalea SARS- CoV-2). Research shows that about 10% of people between ages 18-49 who have COVID -19 get Long COVID. Those odds go up for those over 70 and those with other underlying medical conditions or those who were hospitalized for COVID.
Symptoms after acute COVID-19 are highly variable and wide ranging. The most commonly reported symptoms include (but are not limited to) the following:
Treatment for Long COVID involves a multidisciplinary approach from your health care providers, including physical therapists.
What Can Physical Therapists Do To Help Long COVID?
PEM - Post Exerctional Malaise
Fatigue from Long COVID is variable day to day. Some days energy levels are good, and the person is active and productive during the day. Then after a good day (and possible overexertion) the next few days (or even a month)may present with disabling fatigue. This leads to frustration, not knowing which each day will bring. Our society, work and home expectations lead people to push through the fatigue, ignoring their bodies, until they physically just can't do it anymore and present with other complications. These symptoms have been labeled as Post Exertional Malaise (PEM), and it can be caused by not just physical, but also mental activities. Post-exertional symptom exacerbation is a feature of the inability to produce sufficient energy on demand.
PEM has been a symptom that has been long identified with other chronic disorders such as Epstein Barr Virus, MS, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. One technique that has been used by those suffering from PEM is labeled "Stop, Rest, Pace".
If you or someone you love is suffering from symptoms of Long COVID or Post-Exertional Malaise, reach out and talk to one of our physical therapist to get expert advice and direction on recovery.
We help busy professionals whose activities are limited by pain, get back to enjoying the things they love, even if other treatments have let them down.
Catherine Courtney, PT
Specialist Physical Therapist