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The pandemic has impacted significantly on people who suffer chronic pain. A study performed by the eHealth Lab, a research group affiliated with the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya’s eHealth Center, has shown that 70% of the people with chronic pain have seen their condition worsen in terms of severity, frequency of episodes and interference in their daily activities.
The pandemic worsens pain
The results showed that job insecurity, worries about the future, the number of people living in the same dwelling, having someone close who has died of COVID-19, or fear of becoming infected with the virus may be related with a worsening of the pain.
The study also shows that the pandemic has favoured the emergence of new pain triggers. While stress and weather changes were the most frequently mentioned triggers before the pandemic, during lockdown a large number of participants have mentioned worrying about the future, sleep problems, insecurity, negative thoughts, sadness, loneliness, insufficient physical activity and fear of contagion as triggers.
New ways of coping with pain
The pandemic has also changed how a significant proportion of patients manage their pain. More than half (54.5%) have changed how they cope with it: “The study has shown that since the state of emergency began, more than half of the patients have used rest to manage their pain, and a similar percentage have increased the consumption of medication. Both could have counterproductive effects,” explained Rubén Nieto, professor and researcher at the UOC’s eHealth Lab. However, with the pandemic, people have also started turning to a new positive way to combat pain. Indeed, 48.2% have included stretching exercises as a new tool for dispelling pain.