Article at a Glance:
- Infection with Sars-CoV-2 can cause temporary or persistent joint pain.
- There are over 200 symptoms of Long COVID, including joint pain.
- Joint pain during or following infection is linked to inflammation and low levels of vitamin D.
- Managing symptoms during infection can decrease your chances of developing Long COVID joint pain.
- Consider preventative measures, such as following a low inflammation diet, exercising, and supplementing with high quality supplements such as Bioactive Multi and Immune Super Boost.
- Curcumin, omega-3, collagen precursors, chondroitin, glucosamine, and hyaluronic acid have been shown to benefit joint health. If you suffer from joint pain, consider supplementing with a targeted support product, such as Joint Health & Mobility.
Is Joint Pain a Symptom of COVID-19 Infection and Long COVID?
COVID-19 is a viral infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. Most people who contract COVID-19 experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, headache, congestion, fatigue, and shortness of breath. However, you may be surprised to learn that joint pain, especially during the acute phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection, can be a symptom of COVID-19. In fact, approximately 15% of those with COVID-19 report experiencing joint pain as an early symptom of infection, and even more reference joint pain as a symptom of Long COVID .
Symptoms of COVID-19
If you have ever had COVID-19, you likely experienced one or more of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste or smell
- Muscle fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
Along with muscle weakness, you may have experienced muscle aches and pains. While generalized muscle aches and pains are associated with COVID-19, localized or generalized joint pain can also be an early symptom of infection .
Joint Pain and COVID-19 Infection
Joint pain associated with COVID-19 typically resolves after the infection has subsided. However, in some cases, joint pain can persist for weeks, months, or even years after infection, resulting in post-COVID-19 arthralgia, also known as post-COVID-19 joint pain. Occasionally, new symptoms may even arise out of the blue, even if you were asymptomatic during the time of the infection. If you're experiencing new or lasting symptoms following the COVID-19 infection, you may have Long COVID.
What is Long COVID?
According to the World Health Organization, Long COVID is defined as the continuation or development of symptoms three months after the initial COVID-19 infection, with symptoms lasting for a minimum of two months without any other explanation . Long COVID includes a wide range of health problems that can affect any part of the body, including but not limited to the heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, muscles, skin, and brain. According to the CDC, close to one in five Americans who have reported contracting COVID-19 suffers from Long COVID . Those whose symptoms were most severe during infection are at increased risk of developing Long COVID. However, research shows that even individuals who had mild or no symptoms during the acute phase of infection can still develop Long COVID.
Below Are Common Symptoms of Long COVID:
- Neurological issues, including brain fog, headaches, and dizziness
- Muscle pain
- Joint pain
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Shortness of breath
While these are some of the most common symptoms, there are actually over 200 symptoms associated with Long COVID, ranging from mild to severe (5). One symptom that is often overlooked is joint pain, known as arthralgia.
What Causes Long COVID?
There are many potential causes of Long COVID, but much of the research points to an inflammatory response, or cascade of inflammatory events, triggered by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Exposure to a harmful stimulus, such as an infection, triggers a series of events in the body that ultimately work to combat the threat and initiate the healing process. Since infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus can trigger the release of cytokines, inflammation can occur, causing damage to some of the nerves, tissues, and organs in the body. Cytokines, which are pro-inflammatory proteins that are triggered when you have an infection or injury, help activate immune cells. Typically, this causes an acute inflammatory response, which is a short-term response that resolves once the infection has resolved.
While the release of cytokines during an injury or infection is normal, too many cytokines, often referred to as a "cytokine storm," can lead to damaging inflammation in the body.  If the inflammation persists for weeks, months, or years, it is referred to as chronic inflammation. There are many ongoing studies to determine the causes of Long COVID, but it is clear that inflammation certainly plays a role.
Another potential cause of Long COVID that has garnered a lot of attention involves the role of vitamin D. Vitamin D boosts immune function, so getting adequate amounts through diet and exposure to natural sunlight is a critical part of keeping your immune system healthy. In fact, studies show that low vitamin D levels are associated with an increase in cytokines, which we know can cause widespread inflammation . Therefore, it comes as no suprise that low levels of Vitamin D are associated with Long COVID . So, low levels, both prior to infection as well as during the acute phase of infection, are associated with worse Covid-19 health outcomes and the development of Long COVID .
While more research is needed to conclusively determine the causes of Long COVID, maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D year-round and limiting inflammation in the body prior to, during, and after infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus may lead to better health outcomes and prevent the development of Long COVID. Since many Americans are vitamin D deficient, especially during the winter months, supplementation with a high-quality supplement is a great way to maintain adequate vitamin D levels year-round.
What Causes COVID-19-induced Joint Pain?
It's well known that viral infection can trigger arthritis in the joints, known as viral arthritis . Excess inflammation may lead to the destruction of cartilage in the joints, causing swelling, stiffness, and mild to severe pain. If you have already been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, infection with the Sars-CoV-2 virus can trigger a flare-up. If you've been diagnosed with osteoarthritis prior to the infection or have never been diagnosed with arthritis, you can still develop joint pain, though it typically subsides shortly after the infection is gone. Research shows that those who experience more severe symptoms during infection with Sars-CoV-2 are at higher risk for developing Long COVID. Therefore, taking preventative steps to bolster your immune system and minimize symptoms can help lower your risk of developing Long COVID joint pain.
How Can You Reduce Joint Pain from COVID-19?
If you're experiencing joint pain related to an acute COVID-19 infection, you should contact your healthcare provider right away to see what you should do to safely manage your symptoms and minimize damage while your body fights off the infection. If you are experiencing Long COVID joint pain, you should work closely with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment. While prescribed medications can certainly be beneficial in treating joint pain and arthritis, many studies have shown that certain natural substances such as curcumin, omega-3, collagen precursors, chondroitin, glucosamine, and hyaluronic acid can help minimize joint pain, and improve joint health and mobility.
As previously mentioned, inflammation can have a significant impact on joint health, causing cartilage in the joints to slowly break down, leading to pain, stiffness, reduced mobility, and discomfort. Nutrients such as curcumin enhanced with Bioperine and omega-3 can improve joint discomfort when combined with a low-inflammation lifestyle.
Damaged connective tissue can cause joint discomfort, stiffness, and a limited range of motion. Nutrients such as collagen, chondroitin, and glucosamine can support and improve the health of connective tissue (cartilage, ligaments, and tendons), which provides joint support, stability, and flexibility.
As you age, your body is less able to produce synovial fluid, a natural lubricating substance found in your joints. Hyaluronic acid and soluble fiber have been shown to help keep the joints lubricated.
To ensure you're getting clinically proven dosages of these beneficial joint health ingredients, I recommend trying Healthycell's Joint Health & Mobility. This unique formula comes in MICROGEL™ form for optimal absorption and contains a blend of potent extracts and lubricating nutrients, including curcumin, omega-3, collagen precursors, chondroitin, glucosamine, and hyaluronic acid.
What Can I Do to Prevent COVID-19-Related Joint Pain?
You should focus on keeping your immune system healthy throughout the year to provide your body with the right nutrients, reduce or prevent inflammation, and keep your immune system strong. If you have a compromised immune system and already have significant inflammation in your body, contracting a virus, such as the Sars-CoV-2 virus, can exacerbate your symptoms. For this reason, I recommend avoiding highly processed foods, such as fried foods, foods containing added sugars, refined carbohydrates, foods high in trans fats and saturated fats, and foods containing artificial additives, such as aspartame and MSG. These foods can cause systemic inflammation, which can worsen your symptoms if you become infected. Instead, you should focus on an anti-inflammatory diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy oils (such as olive oil), and low-or non-fat dairy products. Incorporating foods that are high in fiber, potassium, magnesium, and calcium has also been shown to lower inflammation in the body and improve overall vascular function. Check out Anti-Inflammatory Diet Cookbook for Beginners for anti-inflammatory meals and recipes. You may also want to consider reading 7 Ways To Lower Inflammation in Your Body Fast for more tips on controlling inflammation.
Engaging in regular moderate-intensity exercises for at least 150 minutes a week or vigorous-intensity exercises for 75 minutes a week is recommended. Since lack of movement can make your joint and muscle problems worse, engaging in activities regularly that can assist with a range of motion is critical to maintaining joint health and mobility. You should avoid exercises that put undue stress on your joints. However, low-impact exercises, including walking, cycling, swimming, water aerobics, weight lifting, and yoga, are recommended. Stretching each day by moving your joints close to their maximum range of motion is beneficial for maintaining joint health. If you suffer from sacroiliac joint pain, check out SI Joint Pain Exercises.
Along with a healthy diet and supplementation with Joint Health & Mobility, incorporating a daily multivitamin, such as Healthycell's Bioactive Multi, and an immune-boosting supplement, such as Immune Super Boost, can be beneficial. While most of your nutrients should come from a healthy diet, adding supplements to your daily routine is a great way to fill in the gaps and ensure your body is getting all of the nutrients it needs for a strong immune system. I like Healthycell's supplements because the MICROGEL™ formula is 100% bioavailable for optimal absorption. In fact, the results of a double-blind, randomized, peer-reviewed crossover study published in the Journal of Nutrition & Health comparing the absorption of Healthycell's MICROGEL™ technology to a standard tablet showed that Healthycell's MICROGEL™ resulted in:
- 165% more absorption
- 144% higher maximum nutrient level
Bioactive Multi contains essential vitamins and minerals, plus phytonutrients and antioxidants to fight inflammation and neutralize free radicals, cause cellular damage. Immune Super Boost also contains a blend of phytonutrients, including echinacea and elderberry. In addition, it contains vitamins and minerals that support white blood cells and immune regulation. Along with getting out in the sun for at least 30 minutes a day (preferably midday) several times per week, the 40 mcg of vitamin D3 in Bioactive Multi and the 100 mcg in Immune Super Boost can help you maintain optimal levels of vitamin D3 for a healthy and robust immune system.
Joint pain is a symptom of COVID-19 and Long COVID. Managing inflammation and boosting your immune system are critical in preventing severe infection with COVID-19 and reducing the potential for developing Long COVID. A healthy, low-inflammation diet coupled with regular low-impact exercise and proper supplementation can be beneficial for reducing inflammation, boosting the immune system, and alleviating joint pain and discomfort.
About the Author
Bridgit Martin has been working at Healthycell since 2020. She holds a B.S. in education from the College of Charleston, M.S. in nutrition & food science and certificate in health education from Montclair State University, and a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T.Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.
- Mukarram MS, Ishaq Ghauri M, Sethar S, Afsar N, Riaz A, Ishaq K. COVID-19: An Emerging Culprit of Inflammatory Arthritis. Case Rep Rheumatol. 2021 Apr 26;2021:6610340. doi: 10.1155/2021/6610340. PMID: 33986966; PMCID: PMC8077721.
- Weir EK, Thenappan T, Bhargava M, Chen Y. Does vitamin D deficiency increase the severity of COVID-19? Clin Med (Lond). 2020 Jul;20(4):e107-e108. doi: 10.7861/clinmed.2020-0301. Epub 2020 Jun 5. PMID: 32503801; PMCID: PMC7385774.
- Luigi di Filippo and others, Low Vitamin D Levels Are Associated With Long COVID Syndrome in COVID-19 Survivors, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2023;, dgad207, https://doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgad207