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In the News: Chronic Pain and Long COVID Crossover

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is coming closer to an end as everything has started to shift back to normal, however its effects in physical and mental health on millions of people are still very relevant. Given the well-established relationship between stress and pain, stress related to the pandemic may exacerbate pain and impair functioning in people with chronic pain.

Pre-existing chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and arthritis, may be a risk factor for long COVID patients because they may experience symptoms of worsening pain, sleep, mood, and general well-being. The pandemic has also resulted in a rise in new-onset immune diseases and musculoskeletal disorders.

Muscle and joint pain are common symptoms during most acute viral illnesses, including COVID infection. In persons with acute COVID infections, the pain is thought to be a non-specific expression of the acute, inflammatory response, and it affects 20% to 30% of people. These symptoms worsen in people who have been hospitalized for severe COVID and can result in muscle wasting brought on by physical inactivity.

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Recognizing the potential connection between pre-existing chronic pain conditions and long-COVID will allow for a more tailored approach to diagnosis and management. If you have specific questions regarding your chronic pain, please speak to your Healthcare Provider for a tailored treatment plan.


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Everyday Tips for Chronic Back Pain
Nearly all people have low back pain at some point in their lives. In some industries, such as the trades and construction, chronic back pain is a significant problem at work, with 32% of workers over-indexing for just this condition. Let's learn more about back pain and what to do if you have a flare-up of low back pain: Low back pain is defined as pain in the area between the lowest ribs and the buttock region. This area of the body is very mobile and allows us to bend forward, extend, bend side to side, and rotate. Acute low back pain can make it difficult to move or find a comfortable sleeping position. It can also make you feel worried and anxious, which can make the pain worse. Chronic low back pain is defined as pain that lasts or recurs for at least three months. Unfortunately, chronic low back pain can lead to long-lasting sleep and mood problems. For low back pain flare-ups, there are various nonpharmacological treatments available, such as: • Heat or cold therapy • Warm bath with magnesium salts • Massage therapy and physical therapy Additionally, there are positions that you can practice at home, such as the cobra pose or lying in the Z position (see image A) (image B). [caption id="attachment_8982" align="alignnone" width="327"] (A) ”Z” lie[/caption] [caption id="attachment_8983" align="alignnone" width="335"] (B) Prone-lying passive extensions[/caption] Please speak with your healthcare provider if you have low back pain so they can rule out any serious problems. Since low back pain is often considered "non-specific," it is advised to continue engaging in physical activity as much as possible. Exercise is the foundation of chronic back pain treatment. It’s one of the first treatments you should try under the guidance of your physician and spine physical therapist. Other Pharmaceutical Treatments for Chronic Back Pain Analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants and other medications (ie. Opioids) can be used to help control chronic back pain. However, most come with unwanted side effects and are not intended for prolonged use. If you find yourself relying on opioids to get through the day, it may be time to seek a second opinion. NEED TO SPEAK TO A HEALTHCARE PRACTITIONER ABOUT CHRONIC BACK PAIN? Book an Appointment
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Cannabis and Alcohol
It's generally not a good idea to mix alcohol with virtually any drug. In fact, combining it with other medications—especially opioids and pharmaceuticals that depress the central nervous system, such as benzodiazepines and sleep aids—can be fatal. But, what about alcohol and cannabis? The available evidence can be confusing because some studies argue that cannabis use reduces alcohol consumption while others argue that cannabis use raises blood THC levels. This increase in THC can cause a range of unpleasant physical symptoms including sweating, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. Preclinical research shows that CBD may be able to lower alcohol consumption and possibly offer protection from the negative effects of alcohol, such as liver and brain damage1. How? It's believed that CBD's calming and anti-anxiety properties lessen the desire and need for alcohol. In addition, CBD reduces unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like nausea, seizures, and anxiety without causing sedation.        Pro-tip: AVOID mixing THC and alcohol. If you are looking to reduce the amount of alcohol you consume, CBD-dominant products are proving to be useful tools in reducing alcohol intake and minimizing withdrawal symptoms. Please contact your healthcare practitioner or visit Alcoholic Anonymous if you find yourself dealing with concerns about substance use. [1] Non, C.N., Hendershot, C.S., & LeFoll, B. (2019). Effects of cannabidiol on alcohol-related outcomes: a review of preclinical and human research. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol, 17(6), 685-690.