Patient's Perspective from 2021 NIH Pain Consortium Symposium

Lt. Aaron Banas PsyD

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on chronic pain patients throughout the world, either due to the implications of social distancing measures meant to stop the spread of SARS-CoV2 or because of the symptoms associated with COVID-19 itself.

At the Pain Consortium’s annual symposium in May, participants heard from researchers examining how COVID-19 has affected pain patients, and a patient recovering from the long-term symptoms of COVID shared his story.

Lt. Aaron Banas was diagnosed with COVID-19 in late March of 2020. His symptoms quickly worsened and included persistent and severe headaches, chills and body aches. Two weeks after onset of his symptoms, Lt. Banas developed pneumonia and shortness of breath, and was hospitalized.

Four weeks after his initial diagnosis, Lt. Banas was still positive for COVID-19 and experienced a dramatic symptom shift involving psychiatric and neurological symptoms. Increasing joint and muscle pain inhibited his ability to complete tasks such as climbing stairs. His pain levels increased through September. Social stressors exacerbated his pain.

Lt. Banas began micro-current treatment, acupuncture, acupressure, and dietary modifications. These treatments provided him with greater relief than he had previously experienced, possibly because of the social connections he developed with providers during their hour-long sessions. Although he still struggles with joint pain and back pain, Lt. Banas said his symptoms are improving. The improving outlook of the COVID-19 pandemic at the time of the symposium likely also helped to relieve his symptoms by relieving stress.

For more on the relationship between pain and COVID-19, please see research published by investigators funded by NIH Pain Consortium institutes and centers.

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