CHICAGO – Researchers say a new study, for the first time, confirmed that COVID-19 can cause the body to attack itself. Deep medical imaging is finding that some symptoms of joint pain and pain can be prolonged and require lifelong treatment
Other than losing her sense of smell last June, Tajma Hodzick did not have any of the tell-tale signs of a COVID infection.
“I didn’t even lose my sense of taste completely. It was mostly the sense of smell, ”he recalled.
But within days of testing positive, the 31-year-old began to have more serious side effects. Blisters appeared on his hands, rashes on his legs and arms, and his joints began to swell.
“I also started to have some pain in my feet. I ended up in the ER just because the swelling was so great in my hands. I had blisters, ”Hodzick said. “I couldn’t wash my hands because I couldn’t rub them; it hurt me a lot “.
A new article published in the magazine Skeletal radiology confirmed and documented the causes of these types of symptoms using CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasound.
“In some patients, COVID-19 triggers an autoimmune reaction, which means the virus can trick the body into attacking itself,” explained Dr. Swati Deshmukh, musculoskeletal radiologist and assistant professor at Northwestern Memorial Hospital at Chicago
She is one of the authors of the study.
“Some of my patients have recovered and the images have shown signs of improvement, but for other patients, and especially patients with these autoimmune conditions that have been triggered by COVID-19, they will need lifelong treatment,” Deshmukh said.
In some cases, Dr. Deshmukh says that these types of inflammatory responses can mysteriously appear without other common coronavirus symptoms.
“They may not even know that they have been infected with the virus and then later develop problems with the muscles, with the nerves with the joints,” he said.
The images, he says, can help explain the origin of symptoms and guide post-COVID-19 treatments from a rheumatologist or dermatologist.
After two hospitalizations and three biopsies, Hodzick was finally diagnosed with COVID-induced psoriatic arthritis. It could be one of the first of its kind.
The chronic condition now requires you to take medication on a daily basis.
“We really don’t know if once it works on its own outside of my system, what it will look like,” he said. “Yes, at some point, I start to stop taking the medicine or if those symptoms are going to return. So right now, it’s a big question mark. “
It’s another long-term symptom that experts say shows how much there is to learn about the lingering effects of the virus.