2020 burnout: How the stress of the past year can manifest in physical pain

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A physical response to fatigue brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions is being summed up as “2020 burnout.”

Over the past year, everyone was laser-focused on protecting their bodies from the coronavirus, but in doing so, some have started to experience other ailments, according to Leo Harmon from Pappas OPT Physical Therapy .

“We’re seeing a lot of people with stress-related pain,” Harmon said.

Lynda West is one of those people.

“I experienced low-back pain for the first time in my life,” she said.

For the past 11 years, West has worked as a yoga instructor.

“While you’re teaching, you’re moving and you’re showing and you’re demonstrating, so there was a part of my body that I was always stretching,” she explained.

In April, the studio where she taught shut down and was never able to reopen.

“I found a wonderful job, but it was a desk job, so something very, very different,” West said. “Right away, I started to experience neck pain, shoulder pain, down into my arm, tingling and numbness.”

Harmon diagnosed it as stress-related pain.

The physical therapy practice estimates that in the past year, it’s seen a 35% increase in business across its 19 Rhode Island offices for that same reason.

In West’s case, the pain was caused by physical lifestyle changes related to the pandemic, but Harmon said there can also be a subconscious contributor: mental wear-down.

“Everyone’s a little bit different, so people will hold their stress in different areas,” Harmon said. “Most commonly, we see it in the neck and shoulders.”

He says it takes a combination of education, hands-on therapy and teaching techniques to begin to minimize the physical affects of pandemic fatigue.

Are the aches and pains you’re experiencing related to pandemic fatigue? Take Pappas OPT Physical Therapy’s online quiz to find out.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Providence

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