Long COVID Can Damage Joints and Bones

Post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC) continues to affect coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients for weeks and even months after disease resolution. Severe COVID precipitates systemic inflammation and blood clotting abnormalities, hampering bone blood supply – leading to avascular necrosis (AVN).

AVN is a condition in which bone tissue dies due to a lack of blood supply. COVID-19 may lead to AVN through systemic inflammation and blood clotting abnormalities that disrupt blood supply to the bone. AVN treatment depends on the disease stage and location of the affected bone, the patient's age, and overall health. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve outcomes and help prevent long-term joint damage.

According to Dr. Vaibhav Bagaria, Director of Orthopedics at Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai, the exact way in which COVID-19 may cause AVN remains enigmatic. Likely, it could be related to the systemic inflammation and blood clotting abnormalities common in severe COVID-19 cases. These physiological changes can disrupt blood supply to the bones. 

Long COVID (PASC) is known to cause joint and bone pains, but the reason behind the persistent symptoms and the deleterious effects on joint health are yet to be ascertained. Some studies suggest that up to 50% of people with long COVID experience joint pain or arthritis-like symptoms. Prolonged physiological inflammatory response has been implicated in the damage caused to the joints and surrounding tissues. Further research is needed to fully understand the effects of long COVID on joint health. Those experiencing joint pain or other musculoskeletal symptoms should seek medical evaluation and treatment to prevent potential long-term joint damage.

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