COVID-19 has caused ‘significant negative impacts’ on patients with musculoskeletal pain

Jennifer E. Engen

April 18, 2022

1 min read


Oomen-Lochtefeld. Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the management of chronic musculoskeletal pain? Presented at: OARSI 2022 World Congress on Osteoarthritis; April 7-10; Berlin, Germany (virtual meeting).

Oomen-Lochtefeld reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked “significant negative impacts” on pain, function and treatment accessibility for individuals with chronic musculoskeletal pain, according to a speaker at the 2022 OARSI World Congress.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the management of chronic musculoskeletal pain has not been fully delineated,” Sam Oomen-Lochtefeld, an undergraduate student at Tufts University, in Massachusetts, said in his presentation.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected pain severity, function and quality of life of patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain,” Sam Oomen-Lochtefeld, told attendees. Source: Adobe Stock.

Oomen-Lochtefeld and colleagues conducted a comprehensive review of the Medline and Cochrane databases for articles on osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions through May 2021. The aim was to assess the impact of the pandemic on these patients, as well as the ability of these individuals to access health care.

The search yielded eight studies from eight different countries, with data on 1,724 patients overall. Randomized controlled trials, retrospective and prospective cohorts were identified, along with cross-sectional studies. Patients in the cohorts had mean ages ranging from 36 to 62 years. The patient population was 72% women.

Overall results demonstrated that 59% to 100% of patients reported reduced treatment accessibility during the pandemic.

“Two studies on fibromyalgia and chronic back pain reported worsening clinical status that correlated to high dependence on others, low ability to self-manage pain and restricted access to health care,” Oomen-Lochtefeld said.

Increases in pain and reduced quality of life were reported among patients with RA, while studies in miscellaneous chronic back pain yielded “conflicting” results related to pain and function, according to Oomen-Lochtefeld.

Newly published research has focused on treatment accessibility in patients with OA during the first lockdown. Oomen-Lochtefeld noted that retrospective studies showed increasing rates of doctor visits, physical therapy referrals and knee or hip surgeries for these individuals.

“The COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected pain severity, function and quality of life of patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain,” Oomen-Lochtefeld said. “Further, the pandemic had significant negative impacts on treatment accessibility for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain.”

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