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Our lives have been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite a decrease in cases from the past waves, the pandemic is still far from over. In fact, some virus survivors are still exhibiting post-Covid symptoms. Chest pain after Covid-19 recovery is the most typical symptom.
There is a huge increase in the number of patients who are seeking medical help for chest pain. A detailed history from these patients reveals that a significant majority has had Covid infection, varying from mild to severe symptoms.
These patients present with a wide range of symptoms, ranging from mild to severe chest pain, that may significantly impair the ability to perform everyday tasks. Some individuals face challenges in performing even basic activities, like change of posture or a walk in the park.
It was also noticed that some patients had tenderness in certain parts of the chest. However, all investigations in these patients were essentially normal, including blood tests, CT Scan and MRI of the chest.
To get relief from pain, most patients had tried over the counter (OTC) painkillers without any long-lasting relief. The disadvantage of self-medication is that long-term use of painkillers may result in renal dysfunction, and even failure in extreme cases.
Initially, patients can be given painkillers for a short duration to get relief. These include Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, muscle relaxants like Thiocolchicoside and Tolperisone or weak opioids like tramadol. In addition to these, use other medications like gabapin, pregabalin and tryptomer, which can help in pain management.
If the pain continues to persist, the pain management physician can help in alleviation of the symptoms by intercostal nerve blocks. This is a quick procedure where the nerves in between the ribs (intercostal nerves) are blocked under ultrasonic guidance, using a mixture of local anaesthetic and a steroid. This procedure is safe and provides long lasting relief, with most patients needing it only once.
In recent months, we have witnessed several casualties resulting from heart attacks, and it has caused concern among the people. So how can we differentiate if the chest pain is due to a heart attack or something else?
Well, in a heart attack, the chest pain is severe, although some patients may not feel any pain especially patients who have diabetes. Second, the heart attack pain usually is short lasting, it may not carry on for several days. Third, the pain from heart attack may worsen with activity. Investigations such as blood tests, ECG and ECHO will pick up the heart attack. In addition, if it is tender i.e. if it hurts when you touch, then it is unlikely to be a heart attack”.
Individuals who have recovered from Covid-19 can have symptoms similar to those of a heart attack, including chest pain and occasionally shortness of breath. Therefore, it is vital to seek a medical opinion whenever you have chest pain, and should avoid managing these symptoms at home.
A regular health checkup can keep a track of your health by identifying any early signs of health related issues.