COVID-19 vaccine: will it exacerbate my pain?

COVID-19 vaccines are important in preventing ICU admission, death and mortality. Side-effects like transient flares in pain can occur lasting days to weeks, but it prevents severe COVID-19 symptoms. Severe COVID-19 symptoms are life-threatening and may necessitate ICU care which will put you at a much higher risk of chronic pain and permanent physical and psychological disability.

Fight pain like an Olympian

With the vaccination, some patients with chronic pain feel that their back or neck or neuropathic pain hurts more. I reassure them that it is temporary and will go away with time. It is nevertheless a fight daily, to be positive, to keep moving, to keep breathing, to never surrender to chronic pain. Once in a while you may need a minimally-invasive procedure like an injection to the muscle or joint or disc to break out of the vicious pain cycle.

Desensitisation for Pain Relief

Most of us often avoid touching painful areas. However, some desensitization techniques may help to ‘reset’ irritable nerves in some pain conditions. When your brain receives different sensory impulses, it begins to process the pain signal more normally. Over time, the pain experience will become more tolerable and less unpleasant.

Massage. Gentle massage may be tried starting in the the area next to the painful area first.

Towel rubs. Use a cloth or towel (such as polar fleece or cotton towels) to gently rub the affected area. Different textures may be tried.

Gentle tapping. Use a wooden spatula to gently tap the affected area.

Stretching. Gently stretch the joint around the painful area.

Rice or sand bins. Fill an empty storage bin or plastic dish tub with clean sand, uncooked rice, or uncooked beans. Put the affected part of the body into the bin and try to move it.

Contrast baths. Use two large bowls or plastic dish tubs, one with cool water and a few ice cubes and one with warm water. Immerse the affected body part in 1 bin for 2 to 3 minutes then switch to the other bin. Repeat this 2 to 3 times. Always finish with the warm water bath. Ensure the temperature is not over 42 degrees Celsius.

Graded desensitization is not for everyone. Do consult your pain specialist before you try.