COVID-19 and back pain – Autoimmunity as a locus where diseases are found
COVID-19, a disease caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus, is the disease of the moment. Back pain has always been. If there is a cauldron of suitable circumstances, we can develop COVID-19 back pain or pneumonia after SARS-Cov-2 infection.
But how? Since SARS-Cov-2 is a virus that our immune system attacks, the virus can guide, depending on a set of varied surrounding factors, that immune system in several directions, as in the sense of the classic and most common symptoms of respiratory disease or other autoimmune diseases among which are back pain.
Other factors that may contribute to the increase in back pain during pandemic times are sedentary lifestyle associated with confinement, weight gain, stress and anxiety that also disrupt the immune system, as well as the patient’s lack of access to his doctor. due to barriers to entry into hospitals and health centers, which leads to the progression of diseases with their lack of control, some of which may also contribute to back pain.
But how does autoimmunity relate to COVID-19, back pain and how can these, in turn, relate?
There is strong scientific evidence that autoimmunity phenomena are mainly responsible for the severe forms of COVID-19, namely severe pneumonia associated with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). This disease is not exclusively caused by the COVID virus, it can be proved by other viruses or even by other infectious diseases or not, as long as these diseases trigger the same type of autoimmune response.
Although the exact cause of autoimmune diseases remains unknown, there are several factors believed to contribute to its onset, including genetic predisposition, environmental factors (such as infections by bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites), physical agents (cold, scalding by the sun, etc.), hormonal factors and dysregulation of the immune system, which can also be influenced by our state of mind, anxiety, stress, etc. The interaction of all these factors can at some point lead to the development of the vast majority of diseases human beings that have – I would dare say – almost always, to a greater or lesser degree, an autoimmune background.
Viruses such as Parvovirus B19, Epstein-Barr, Cytomegalovirus, Herpes-6, HTLV-1, hepatitis A and C and rubella are proven to be associated with the triggering and initiation of autoimmune diseases, but in reality almost all other viruses can do so. . I talk to you about all these viruses to realize that the world is not just COVID. The other viruses are and will continue to be around. The suggested mechanisms are complex, but well known and clearly described in the medical scientific literature.
I will spare you in detail, but after infection by any virus, a chain of events is triggered that can eventually lead to the production of pro-inflammatory mediators, which in turn can lead to tissue damage. Depending on the damaged tissue, we have different manifestations / diseases.
Coronaviruses have always affected humans through transmission by animals. In the past two decades, this is the third case of the emergence of different, new, more serious than usual strains of coronavirus, after SARS in 2003 and MERS-CoV in 2012. In December 2019, a new outbreak of a a new type of coronavirus infection has emerged in Wuhan, China, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 disease characterized by fever, dry cough, muscle pain and / or extreme fatigue. The infection can also be asymptomatic or with minimal constitutional flu symptoms leading to a favorable outcome in many cases. However, some of the patients develop severe pneumonia with sepsis leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with respiratory failure that requires mechanical ventilation and involvement of multiple organs, which can lead to death. These serious forms of Covid-19 are those that develop through uncontrolled immune activation (exaggerated release of cytokines, etc.) leading to multiple organ failure.
SARS-CoV-2 can act as a trigger for the development of rapid autoimmune and / or autoinflammatory dysregulation, which can lead not only to severe interstitial pneumonia, in individuals with genetic predisposition or pathological history, but also to it seems, to many other autoimmune diseases if a melting pot of various factors is fulfilled.
Back pain also almost always has inflammatory / autoimmune phenomena behind it. It is the attack that our own immune system makes against damaged tissues of the spine such as discopathies, hernias, protrusions, bulging discs, arthrosis, cartilage of the articular facets, sacroiliac joints, synovial cysts, tissue that joins the discs with the vertebral bodies bone, among others, which almost always leads to the development of symptoms (back pain, tingling, abnormal thermal sensation, and sometimes even lack of strength).
The COVID virus can thus trigger an immune system response, which can lead to the destruction of the virus, when no disease develops, or trigger an autoimmune response, if a number of factors are combined, which can lead to a series of diseases, the most serious of which will be SARS pneumonia but, if different environmental, pathological or genetic factors are combined, lead to the development of other diseases, such as back pain.
The message on this World Spine Day will be: stay active, safe, but active, and do not neglect your health, which is obviously not restricted to protection against COVID-19.