COVID-19: What Joint Pain Patients Should Know

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, how you take care of yourself grows more crucial as the weeks and months go on. If you’re experiencing joint pain, you may be concerned about how to manage it during these unpredictable times.  

Penn Medicine orthopedic surgeon, Christopher S. Travers, MD, shares in this video tips on how to protect your joints and manage pain during the pandemic.


1. Managing Inflammation

If you’re experiencing joint pain, it may be caused by inflammation in your body. Inflammation attacks joint tissues, causing fluid in your joints, swelling, muscle damage, and more.

There are a few ways to manage inflammation in your joints from home. Just remember the useful acronym, R.I.C.E.: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. 

For example, if your knee joint is in pain, you can wrap your knee to reduce swelling (compression), use an ice pack over the wrap to numb the pain (ice), while elevating your leg on the couch (elevation and rest).

2. Use Anti-Inflammatory Medications

In the early stages of the pandemic, many patients were concerned about nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – which are often prescribed to treat arthritis and joint pain – and whether they could worsen a COVID infection. There is no evidence that proves NSAIDs exacerbate COVID-19. 

At this time, Dr. Travers is still prescribing patients with NSAID medications, including Advil and Aleve. He encourages patients who may still have some concerns regarding NSAIDs to take Tylenol instead. Tylenol is characterized as acetaminophen, which works differently than NSAIDs for joint pain, yet is still very effective. 

The type of medication that’s right for you depends on many factors, including other medications you are taking. Talk to your doctor about your joint pain and which pain reliever is most appropriate for you.

3. Avoiding Joint Pain Flare-Ups

Trauma to your joints or overdoing physical activity may lead to flare-ups in your joint pain. Other causes can include, stress, weather, repetitive motions, an infection or weight gain.

A good way to avoid flare-ups is to modify activities that can increase joint pain, such as: 

  • Avoid sitting on low chairs
  • Avoid long distance running 
  • Do exercises that won't require deep bending, like modified squats using a chair

With many of us staying home and being less active – and often within easy reach of the pantry –, monitoring our diet is just as important as physical activity. An excess of calorie intake can lead to weight gain, which puts a lot of pressure on the joints. Because small changes in weight can cause significant changes in joint pain, it’s very important to maintain a healthy weight for your height and body mass. 

4. Exercise at Home

There are a few exercise you can do at home to strengthen your hips and knees. Exercises that target specific muscle groups are effective. 

“One of the most important muscles for hip and knee health is the quadricep muscle. This is the muscle on the front of your thigh. Things that exercise that are extending your knee, or straightening your leg out. If you're sitting in a chair and you straighten your leg out at the knee, that is working your quadricep muscle,” says, Dr. Travers. 

Using low resistant training methods do not require machines or weight systems. It’s a great way to use your body weight to strengthen those areas. 

5. Go to the Doctor

Penn Orthopaedics has multiple options for patient care at this time. We are providing initial consultations through telemedicine, so you can discuss your medical concerns with a physician or physician assistant through video call or phone call. During your telemedicine visit, the physician will talk to you about next steps, which may include prescribing medication, recommending exercises or physical therapy, or scheduling a follow-up visit in-person for imaging or treatment. 

If your condition is more severe, we are also seeing patients in our offices and performing surgeries with a variety of safety measures in place. 

These safety measures include:

  • Maximizing physical distancing in waiting rooms and patient care areas
  • Reducing and, in some cases, completely eliminating time spent in the waiting room
  • Scheduling fewer in-person appointments to reduce the number of people in our facilities at one time. 
  • Establishing new visitor guidelines limiting the visitors who can accompany patients to appointments or see them in the hospital
  • Requiring all patients, visitors and staff to get their temperatures checked and complete health screenings before entering the hospital 
  • Screening patients for COVID-19 before surgical procedures

Penn Orthopaedics is here for you. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us  by calling 800-789-7366 or filling out our online form

About this Blog

Get pain management and fitness tips from our orthopaedic doctors, stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in the orthopaedics field, and hear from patients like you, who achieved what once seemed impossible. 

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