Treatment for Long-Haul COVID Symptoms

Long-haul covid is a new term that is being used to described persistent, lingering symptoms experienced after one or multiple diagnoses of covid virus.  Symptoms are ongoing past six weeks from initial diagnosis and can last for months even when the virus is no longer detected in the body.

 

Individual symptoms will undoubtedly vary and can be intermittent in nature.   This is especially true when a person has contracted different variants of the virus.  The theme of covid symptom awareness is so diverse and top of mind, that almost any symptom we experience we are wondering if it is covid.

 

Common long-term symptoms may include:

  • Extreme fatigue, both physically and mentally that does not improve with rest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Change in voice, smell and taste
  • Impairment of mental cognition, focus and sleep
  • Weak immunity
  • Menstrual cycle irregularity
  • Muscle, joint and nerve pain/inflammation
  • Heart conditions and fluctuations
  • Emotional PTSD
  • Spine/back pain and sub-occipital/cranial pressure

 

A closer look at the above indicators reveals a multitude of bodily systems that may be singularity affected or a cumulative load applied upon multiple organ structures.  The symptoms can alter our respiratory system, immune system, reproduction system, and cardiovascular system to name a few.  As well, physical ability along with mental and emotional confidence can impede our activities of daily living.  The organs are taxed, and the vitality in the body is reduced.

 

Long-haul covid can be all consuming, and life altering.  So where do we start with treatment? I believe a diversity of treatment options is the best, with each treatment addressing a specific system.

 

  • See your Doctor. Medication, blood work, imaging and further referrals may be necessary.
  • Are you working full-time? Reduced work hours or being off work may ease the stress burden on your body and allow time for healing.
  • Physical treatments:
    • Osteopathy shines in the role of restoring vitality at a local organ level and systemically throughout the whole human structure. Cranial treatments to relieve pressure on the cranium and vagus nerve are key.
    • Massage Therapy is advantageous to reduce muscle and nervous system tension.
    • Physiotherapy clinics are offering 6-12 week clinical programs specifically designed for long haul covid patients. These programs can be partnered with Occupational Therapy.
    • Chiropractic is wonderful for improving spinal movement.
    • Acupuncture speaks for itself, to improve nerve conduction and energetic flow through the body.
    • Exercise as indicated. If you aren’t familiar with what to do and how often, there are professionals who can give insight into an exercise program.
  • Naturopathic Doctors have a plethora of insights and offerings to assist the human body in its natural trajectory toward healing.
  • Counselling and mental therapy are vital in addressing depression, anxiety, and trauma.
  • Yoga, meditation and sleep therapy. Avoid sensory over-stimulation.
  • Nutrition, and drinking more water to nourish the cells.
  • Diaphragmatic breathing exercises

 

I am seeing patients in my practice that have long-haul symptoms.  Each case is individually assessed, with common areas for assessment and treatment being:

  • A detailed case history intake and conversation
  • Rib articulations, due to excessive coughing
  • Spleen and liver, organ inflammation with the immune response
  • Diaphragm, weakened breathing patterns
  • Cranial, sub-occipital, and vagus nerve pathways
  • Throat and cervical spine, coughing and voice changes
  • Back/spine pain, compromised posture with recovery

 

A diversified team approach to long-haul covid symptoms is a strategic approach that will ideally show incremental improvements for the patient.  Each professional will offer treatment in what they do best.  Ask for a referral or recommendation to continue your varied healing journey.

Mind Your Feet

Our long-awaited summer is here!  Warmer weather, lighter clothes and of course, many different options for shoes.  The change in season brings a welcomed change of wardrobe and footwear to match the outfit or activity.

So, function over fashion, or fashion first?  Well, that depends on purpose and duration of activity.

I really enjoy summer flip flops, slides, sandals, sneakers and of course, bare feet whenever possible.  This variation in footwear can cause an abrupt change to the feet and the ascending postural gravity lines causing issues with the knees and low back.

Your gait and waking cycle will be altered based upon the footwear you choose.  Sneakers and running shoes afford a longer stride, while sandals may limit the stride length and cause the plantar fascia on the bottoms of the feet to work a little harder due to the construction of the sandal and perhaps less support.  Kicking around a campsite in 5 year-old, past-their-prime sandals is fine for a short duration, but nowhere near sufficient for a 3 km hike.

Our feet can swell significantly in warm weather, leading to foot discomfort at the end of the day.  When trying on a sandal in the store, be mindful of your cool foot vs. a hot and swollen mid-afternoon foot and the sizing available. Soaking your feet in cool water is a great way to reduce inflammation; cue: hanging your feet off the dock into the lake water!

A few other tips for your summer feet:

  • Calluses are protective, but don’t let them get out of control.
  • Pedicures are helpful for a refresh of summer feet.
  • Epsom salt soak + foot file scrub every few weeks.
  • Apply a healing cream/ointment for the heels. Cracked heels are painful.
  • Stretching the calves and hamstrings. Try the yoga pose downward facing dog for a great lower leg stretch.
  • Go barefoot when possible. It can strengthen your feet.

 

Choose your footwear wisely.  An overworked foot due to a poor shoe choice can take 4-6 weeks to resolve.  Enjoy your summer by keeping your feet happy. So, fashion vs. function?……I lean to the side of appropriate function.

Transitions

The movement and progression from one situation to another is easily summarized as a transition.  Our life is full of transitions.  Some transitions are short and optimized, some transitions can be heavy on the heart, while others can be fun and uplifting.  Transitions can be forced upon on us – death, job loss or relationship unravelling – or an imminent transition we know is on the horizon, it’s looming, either in our personal or professional life, but it’s usually up to us to initiate it.

 

All transitions carry the potential for mixed reactions based on our current health, mindset, support system and previous life experiences.  Our perspective is what contributes to our response.

 

I know these transitions all too well in my personal and professional life, as a significant career transition is what has brought me to Prairie Sky Integrative Health.

 

A few months ago while on Vancouver Island, I was mountain biking on Maple Mountain and came across a beautiful arbutus tree, that was much larger and thus older, than any other arbutus tree I have seen before.  It exuded wisdom and stability.  A closer look revealed a few of its branches were completely dead, pale and lifeless.  Our eye somehow travels to notice what is wrong, instead of what is correct.  Pausing to reframe my perspective, I noticed near each dead branch, was a new creation of a limb that was viable, full of colour and thriving.

 

As I pondered this unique dichotomy of living and non-living branches on the same tree, I see the parallel in my own life where relationships terminate and new connections sprout.  I stared at the root of that arbutus tree, in awe, at how many transitions it must have weathered and it hit me; that in order to cope, withstand and thrive through a transition, we need a stable root.

 

Ashtanga yoga speaks about 8 limbs, and the importance of a confident base to move from.  Our root is likened to our boundaries, or parameters for what we will tolerate and what we will no longer endure. As we become wiser with age, we really start to understand ourselves, and we sense what cellularly aligns with our soul.  Authenticity is the word I like to keep near.

 

So what is my root?  It’s a valid question, and I recognise the answer changes as I progress through life and accumulate experiences.  We each have a different idea of what makes us rooted, grounded, happy and wholesome.  Sometimes roots get pulled out, and this can be difficult to replant.

 

During life transitions the physical, mental and emotional body often wavers.  Sleep, pain, nervous system dysregulation and digestion upset are common signs and symptoms.  These times are when patients are more likely to seek treatment of a physical nature, or sometimes even just to talk.  Through conversation, the finer details of life’s decisions become evident.  I think this is the value of having a trusted health care practitioner in your corner, an independent influence perhaps, to help realign the systems of our physical body to allow our intuition to symmetrically connect with the mind.

 

A few transition questions that can lead to clarity:

 

  • Who am I today, and does my current environment align?
  • Why am I feeling the impulse to make a transition?
  • Have I felt this feeling before?
    • If so, how did I act?
    • When I acted, what was the outcome?
  • What are my support outlets to gain clarity?
  • When do I have to decide?
    • Is it an internal pressure, or one from an external source?
  • Where do my fears originate?

 

Every transition has a unique set of circumstances.  Our life will perpetually have transitions, we cannot run from them, nor should we try.  If we can slowly develop and get to the root of who we are today, we start to feel more confident in our ability to adapt.  More confidence leads to less pain, better eating habits, more physical activity, improved sleep, and more authentic relationships.  Whether you tackle a transition solo, or with a team approach, clarity lies on the other side of a difficult conversation.