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There are numerous symptoms that could point to a COVID case, but some are more talked about than others. Common symptoms include cough, fever, and shortness of breath, but patients have also complained about more unusual symptoms, including rashes and eye pain. Recently, Ellen DeGeneres said she experienced a COVID symptom she doesn’t think is talked about enough: back pain. Of course, back pain is a very common phenomenon, but there are some telltale signs that can help you determine if what you’re experiencing is a coronavirus symptom. Keep reading to find out how to tell if your back pain is COVID, and for more symptoms you may be unsure about, This Is How to Tell If Your Upset Stomach Is COVID, Doctors Say.

Woman with headache and feverWoman with headache and feverShutterstock

Back pain can be a muscle ache symptom of the coronavirus, says Leann Poston, MD, a licensed physician and health advisor for Invigor Medical. However, it’s highly unlikely for this symptom on its own to be a sign that you have COVID. Instead, Poston says those infected should also expect to experience losing their sense of taste and smell, shortness of breath, headache, fever, and/or a dry cough. And for more on coronavirus complications, If Your Symptoms Appear in This Order, You May Have Severe COVID.

Man Clutching His Arm in Pain Misdiagnosed Men's Health IssuesMan Clutching His Arm in Pain Misdiagnosed Men's Health IssuesShutterstock

Matthew Kohler, MD, a pain management specialist and co-founder of Ospina Medical, says that while muscle aches are a reported COVID symptom, they are not likely to present themselves in just one place, like the back.

“It is likely that back pain related to COVID would present with more diffuse pains throughout the body as well,” Kohler explains. And for more on the future of the pandemic, discover The One Thing About the COVID Vaccine That’s Surprising Even Doctors.

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The one common symptom you should really look out for to determine if you have the coronavirus is a dry cough. That’s because, according to Poston, the back pain one experiences during COVID is usually a result of their cough.

“Coughing can cause rib and diaphragm pain, which frequently radiates to the back,” she explains. And for more on your cough, This Is How to Tell If Your Cough Is COVID, Doctors Say.

Woman with back pain from sleeping on her stomachWoman with back pain from sleeping on her stomachShutterstock

Different types of back pains often feel different, Poston says. If you experience back pain from coughing due to COVID, it will most likely be sharp and hurt when you take a deep breath or cough. If it’s back pain from pneumonia—a potential complication of coronavirus—it’ll feel different from the regular back pain many experience by sitting too long or laying the wrong way. Poston says pneumonia back pain is more often described as an achy pain that “bores deep into the back.” And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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If all you have is back pain, it’s unlikely to be the coronavirus or pneumonia. Back pain can arise from a series of non-virus related causes, such as a slipped disc, muscle strain, ligament strains, arthritis, and trauma, Poston says.

Henaku Yirenkyi, MD, an orthopedic spine surgeon with World Spine and Orthopedics, says that back pain from these other conditions often leads to a “radiation of pain into the lower extremities.” However, he says that back pain from COVID won’t radiate down your leg. And if you are experiencing back pain, check out these Easy Ways to Beat Back Pain Every Day.

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Last modified: 30th January 2021