A COVID-19 patient with intense burning pain

Feyzullah Aksan, Eric Andrew Nelson, Kristin A. Swedish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


A woman in her forties with asthma and COPD was admitted to a general medical floor with respiratory symptoms, body aches, and anosmia. Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction detected severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2. Admission labs, including biomarkers of the systemic immunological dysfunction seen in many cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), were within normal ranges. On the second day of admission, she developed neck and back pain that was constant, burning in quality, and exacerbated by light touch and heat. Wearing clothing caused pain and interfered with her sleep. The area was tender to light finger stroke. The patient was given acetaminophen, NSAIDs, and opioids with no relief of pain. However, gabapentin was effective. At follow-up 1 month later, her symptoms were improved and still relieved by gabapentin. Neuropathic pain was seen in over 2% of COVID-19 patients in one observational study. The pain seen in our case was bilateral, involved an area innervated by multiple levels of spinal nerves, and was limited to the back. While it is rare, a significant number of COVID-19 patients are afflicted by neuropathic pain, and our case illustrates that gabapentin may be effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)800-801
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of NeuroVirology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Gabapentin
  • Neuralgia
  • Neuropathic pain
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Virology


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