With high rates of the BA.5 Omicron variant where we live, I figured it was only a matter of time until I became infected, even though I still mask in stores and don't dine indoors at restaurants. But I expected that if I had symptoms, they might include a cough, sore throat, fever or headache, or fatigue. Instead, my run-in with Omicron featured none of these, such that initially I didn't even suspect I had Covid.
On Day 1, I'd been sitting and working for longer periods than usual, and started noticing some lower back pain. I did some gentle stretches, but nothing helped, and I figured I just needed to sleep it off. Instead, around 3am, I woke up with excruciating back pain, as well as some abdominal pain, and never got back to sleep. I had so little mobility and the pain was so severe that I ended up going to the ER, which proceeded to run a blood test and CT scan that indicated everything was fine.
It was only once I was home again, in bed, doing searches on my symptoms, that I discovered that severe lower back pain is a symptom others have had with Omicron. “Omicron patients tend to have more back pain and less loss of smell and taste,” according to Dr Ann Mary, who practices at Amrita Hospital in Kochi. She noted that many Omicron patients have significant lower back pain in the lower back and severe myalgia (muscle pain).
Similarly, this Insider article references a 37-year old who struggled to get into or out of bed, had trouble walking down the stairs, and couldn't lift her young children, as well as a 29-year old who described her pain as similar to having a kidney stone, where it hurt to breathe at times. Yes! That was my pain exactly.
Incredibly, the ER didn't test me for COVID-19, but later, when I tested myself with a rapid antigen test, it returned a negative result. A subsequent PCR test also returned a negative result. This isn't as surprising as it may seem at first blush, since I've been using Enovid, and it likely eliminated most of the viral load in my nose and throat. Is it possible that I didn't have COVID-19 and that it was another problem entirely? Possible, but in my view, unlikely, given the severity of the pain, how suddenly it came on, and how equally suddenly the pain departed three days later. So while I can't prove it, most likely I'm just one of many, many Americans who have been infected by Omicron but who don't show up in any of the case counts, since I never yielded a positive test result.
While I'm grateful not to have had any respiratory symptoms, fever, brain fog, etc., I still wouldn't wish the back pain I had on anyone. If you're unlucky enough to get this particular symptom, I highly recommend a heating pad, drinking plenty of water and peppermint or ginger tea to stay hydrated, and plenty of rest alternating with gentle movement, along with whichever painkillers are safe and work for you (although in my case, none of the usual OTC painkillers worked for me).
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