Adriaan Louw, PT, PhD, wrote “Letter to the editor: Chronic pain tidal wave after COVID-19: are you ready?” this month for the journal, Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, to address the impact COVID-19 will have on chronic pain. Dr. Louw reviews research on the effects of the sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic and gives his recommendations on how clinicians should prepare themselves to provide effective care for those suffering from chronic pain post-COVID-19.
- Biological functions related to the immune system will need to be considered, along with inflammatory responses.
- Additional biological consequences of COVID-19 may include: increased issues pertaining to encephalopathy; post-polio syndrome; and altered body schema due to structural changes in the brain blood-brain and spinal cord-brain barrier changes (Beggs, Liu, Kwan, and Salter, 2010).
- Those who already lived with chronic pain will likely have a significant negative impact related to COVID-19, whereas people with no chronic pain prior to COVID-19 may join the ranks of those struggling with chronic pain (Clauw, Hauser, Cohen, and Fitzcharles, 2020).
- The modern PT must become a “multidisciplinary provider.”
- Current best-evidence for chronic pain calls for a three-pronged approach: cognitive intervention; movement and treatment aiming to calm the central nervous system (Nijs et al., 2020).
- PT must move closer to lifestyle medicine and preventative care. COVID-19 clearly impacted those with poorer health (i.e. elderly, obese, unfit, anxious, and depressed.)