COVID Knee Pain

COVID 19 has produced many side effects many of which we are only beginning to understand.  Joint pain is one of the side effects that we are seeing in people who were diagnosed with COVID.  It does not matter if you had severe symptoms during COVID or if you had no symptoms during COVID, the post COVID symptoms have no bearing on how severe your symptoms were when you were diagnosed.

One of the symptoms post COVID that we are seeing is knee pain.  This knee pain can come in many forms and can present either right after recovery or months later. One thing is certain, that it is unexplained knee pain and there was no previous complaints or occurrences of knee pain but there was a diagnosis of COVID and then there was knee pain following the diagnosis regardless of the severity of the symptoms.

What does it feel like?  (And remember everyone is different and you may or may not have some or all of these)

  1.  A diffuse ache

Reports of having a diffuse ache of knee pain all over. Some report it as an arthritis pain but worse, more intense and all over the knee; front, back and all sides.

The ache does not ever subside, but it is always there. It can be very mild at times, but it is always present. It can also have periods of being more intense.

2.  It does not feel like a pain in one area of the knee. 

One thing that it is not is in a specific area of the knee. There is no sharp pain in one area of the knee. This is something that is more indicative of another diagnosis like IT Band tendinitis and Jumpers Knee.

3.  Loss of range of motion or painful range of motion

One thing that is a part of this diagnosis is a loss of range of motion. This loss is small and only at the very end of knee bending or knee straightening, and it is usually only limited because of pian meaning that there are sometimes that you can bend and straighten your knee all the way but there are other times that it is too uncomfortable or painful to either bend or straighten your knee.

4.  Gradual loss of strength

The longer people put off on dealing with the diffuse pain the more we are seeing a loss of strength occur. This could be related to the fact that people generally just stop using their knee because it is painful and therefore do less on the knee and therefore the strength starts to diminish.

5.  Balance problems

There is also evidence of balance problems. Single leg balances have become compromised and while in and of itself, it does not seem like a big deal to have problem balancing on one leg, this can translate into difficulty walking down the stairs and walking on uneven surfaces which can lead to falls and fractures and more severe injuries, that had balance issues been addressed early on could have been prevented.

How can you treat it?

This is a bit trickier because of the complications of COVID.  While there are exercises that you can do, you want to be careful because there are complications with lung damage and scarring as well as other joint complications that can make it more challenging to just rehabilitate the knee.

The exercises that are listed below are ones that could be done at home, but you should not initiate a post COVID exercise program without the supervision of a medical professional due to the complications that could arise.

  1.  Work on your balance

Stand at a table or a counter with your hands resting on the counter. Stand on one leg and slowly remove your hands from the table. Balance on the one leg as long as you can.  Use your hands for support if needed. Repeat this 15 times. If the pain increases stop.

2.  Sit on the edge of the bed or the table

Make sure there is room for you bend your knee as far back as you can and make sure you can straighten your knee as far out as you can.

Sitting on the edge, gently straighten your knee as far out as it will go, you may use your hands to help if this is too difficult.  Then bend your knee as far back as it will go, you can use your hands to help if it is too difficult. You can bend it to the point of being uncomfortable just not painful.  Hold it there for 5 seconds.

3.  Strengthen the front of your leg

Lay on your back and bend one knee up and place the foot flat on the ground. Keeping the one leg completely straight, lift the straight leg off the table.  Raise it to the height of the other leg and then gently lower it down. Try not to rest it all the way down but gently touch the floor and then raise it right back up again.

If you or someone you know is suffering from post-COVID symptoms and live in Bucks or Montgomery County PA and want a FREE consultation with a Doctor of Physical Therapy, call our office at 215-997-9898 or click here and enter your information and we will be in touch!

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