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Amid surge in fibromyalgia cases in Covid patients, experts share symptoms and tips to stay safe

In the last few months, experts say that there has been an uptick in the number of patients with fibromyalgia — a painful condition leading to fatigue in joints, chest wall, elbows, legs, shoulder, and also headache.

Dr Girish L Bhalerao, super specialty consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Wockhardt Hospital Mira Road says, “Around 15-20 cases have been observed in the last two to four months. We have observed more women complaining of the condition compared to men among the middle aged and elderly population.”

There were many health problems that came to the fore during the pandemic, and one of them is fibromyalgia, adds Dr Gaurav Khera, orthopedic Surgeon (Karol Bagh) Apollo Spectra Delhi.

“It is a painful and chronic condition leading to muscle pain along with fatigue, sleep disturbances, mood-related disorders, and memory problems. So, patients will notice pain in the shoulders, chest, elbows, and joints.

Furthermore, one may also experience constant fatigue, stress, anxiety, sleep problems, mood swings, and memory fog. The symptoms may be similar to arthritis, but it does not cause joint or muscle inflammation. It impacts the soft tissue and not the joints as a whole. Fibromyalgia is also a long covid symptom known as FibroCovid. It is seen commonly in women compared to men,” Dr Khera explains.

Dr Rakesh Nair, consultant knee replacement surgeon at Zen Multispeciality Hospital informs that “a lot of patients have complained of increase in joint pains post-Covid: almost all had increased pain which varied from three weeks to six months”.

“Patients suffering from this condition experience sudden shoulder, joint, elbow, and chest pain. This pain can be triggered due to the stress, tension, and emotional disturbance due to coronavirus and also deficiency of calcium: vitamin D 3 and vitamin B12 which aggravated the symptoms. Women of post-menopausal status had increased pain compared to men. The pain is there for some months and one may have some trigger points in the body,” he says.
According to Dr Bhalerao, while the causes of fibromyalgia are not known yet, genetics and viral infections can play a role in its occurrence. “Prompt medical attention, cognitive therapy, and adopting healthy lifestyle practices can be beneficial in tackling fibromyalgia. Self-care can help you to manage the painful symptoms. Try to stay calm and stress-free by doing deep breathing exercises, getting enough sleep, exercising daily like swimming, walking, aerobics, or stretching, and eating a well-balanced diet. Do not neglect any symptoms like shoulder, joint pain, sleep issues, memory problems, or even physical exhaustion,” he says.