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COVID-19 & Chronic Pain

The public health consequences for Chronic Pain Patients

COVID-19 is a global healthcare pandemic, impacting economies, work, and school. Healthcare is abruptly changing due to COVID-19. Elective, routine, and non-emergency healthcare have stopped.


Pain clinics have stopped or are severely reduced in capacity: Healthcare professionals are being redeployed. Patients are being encouraged to ’socially distance’, particularly away from hospitals.

Crowd of People

People will be more susceptible to contracting the virus who are: 

  • Older age

  • Lower SES

  • Smokers

  • Have chronic healthcare condition

Patients with chronic pain are more likely to experience : 

  • Higher incidence of COVID-19 infections

  • Greater disruption to usual healthcare access

  • Worse downstream consequences of abruptly altered healthcare

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The consequences of not treating patients with pain 

People rarely spontaneously recover from chronic pain.
Patients on waiting lists report severe levels of pain, disability, and depression, and a third of patients report suicidal thinking. 

Children and adolescents also report high symptom burden when waiting for pain clinic evaluation. 

Patients waiting longer than 6 months report declining health-related quality of life, increased pain, and depression. 

Options for remote assessment & management

Managing patients with chronic pain during the Covid-19 outbreak has led physician to consider the rapid introduction of remotely supported (e-health) pain management services

Technology can provide solutions.

Telephones, SMS (Text) & video-conferencing are used worldwide and are similar to traditional care. 

Assessment can take place using mobile phones and camera technology, or web-based systems.

Self-management can be accessed through the internet, email, computers, or smart phones. 

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Doctor's Desk



Evidence supporting remote therapies

Most evidence for remote therapies have focused on internet-delivered psychological interventions. 

Overall the evidence is promising in helping patients manage their pain remote from the therapist, but there are some unknowns (e.g., adverse events, dropouts can be large, understanding who doesn’t engage in treatments


Eccleston C, Blyth FM, Dear BF, Fisher EA, Keefe FJ, Lynch ME, Palermo TM, Reid MC, Williams AC. Managing patients with chronic pain during the COVID-19 outbreak: considerations for the rapid introduction of remotely supported (e-health) pain management services. Pain, 2020; 161 (5): 889-893.

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Keep safe...

Please continue to follow Public Heath advice from government and Health Service Executive regarding hand sanitisation & social distancing.


As ever, remain vigilant for the symptoms of COVID-19.

Most common symptoms:

  • fever

  • dry cough

  • tiredness

  • Less common symptoms:

  • aches and pains

  • sore throat

  • diarrhoea

  • conjunctivitis

  • headache

  • loss of taste or smell

  • a rash on skin, or discolouration of fingers or toes

Serious symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

  • chest pain or pressure

  • loss of speech or movement


Seek immediate medical attention if you have serious symptoms. Always call before visiting your doctor or health facility.


People with mild symptoms who are otherwise healthy should manage their symptoms at home.


On average it takes 5–6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days.

World Health Organisation

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