Spine Surgeon Dr. Haines Discusses Latest Covid-19 Variant Symptom: Back Pain

Throughout the pandemic, more and more people have been stricken with back and neck pain. That same increase seems to be happening again with the rise in the Omicron variant. While the true scientific reasons are not exactly known, there are many potential causes.

In my opinion, this is largely due to the work-from-home economy that has increased due to in-person limitations. People’s lifestyles have changed dramatically. During the height of the pandemic-driven lockdowns, there was a sharp increase in back and neck pain from poor posture staring at a computer and diminished physical activity. After all, rolling out of bed and immediately looking into a virtual meeting isn’t the healthiest morning workout for the spine. Further, the stress that many parents were under trying to work and educate their kids from home means that it was hard for the mind to heal. Constant angst only serves to amplify pain and increase backaches. With the increase in cases from Omicron, the pattern is repeating. In my own house, the stress of not knowing if my children are going to school the following day has been a major stressor for my mind which hasn’t been great for my overall physical well-being either.

Aside from the lifestyle modifications that have resulted from Omicron, Covid has been known to be very inflammatory. When the overall body has heightened inflammation, aches and pains get amplified. For example, there are times that a lumbar disc herniation, or a tear in the shock absorbers of the back, alone may not hurt all that much. But that injury combined with increased overall inflammation, be it from the diet, lack of exercise/sleep, or COVID, could result in serious and debilitating pain. In other words, Omicron may be another factor that converts a spine injury that we could normally shrug off into a bad, painful injury.

While the science isn’t exact yet, there’s no doubt that COVID has been rough on our spines. The best medicine to combat this is prevention. Getting the proper sleep, emphasizing nutrition and exercise, focusing on emotional and mental health, and staying healthy is the best for your body and spine.

Listen to Dr. Haines discuss the Omicron variant with KCBS here.

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