Joint pain caused by chikungunya infection is one of the main symptoms that weaken and cause patients to complain, and can last for years. That’s why a lot of people ask themselves: Is there any way to relieve chikungunya pain? The orthopedist Eduardo Vasconcelos guides what to do (and not to do) when diagnosed with the disease.
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Ceará had two municipalities leading the number of probable cases of chikungunya in Brazil, according to data from the Ministry of Health: Fortaleza with 9,392 probable cases; and Juazeiro do Norte, 3,670.
- Fortaleza and Juazeiro do Norte have the highest number of suspected cases of chikungunya in the country
- Ceará records eleven deaths from chikungunya and four from dengue in 2022
The ministerial body also reported that in the first half of 2022, of a total of 23 deaths across the country, 17 occurred in Ceará. As a result, the state concentrated 73.9% of deaths.
The doctor Eduardo Vasconcelos explains that the first care needed to try to relieve the pain is rest. “The more physical activities, the more it demands from the joints, the more pain this will generate due to the already inflamed joint”, commented the orthopedist.
Rest and hydration are two fundamental points in the treatment of chikungunya. — Photo: Getty via BBC
He also commented on an important topic of arboviruses. “The second important point is hydration. It is very important to drink a lot of water, oral rehydration serum, juices, avoid alcoholic beverages — because it will generate dehydration that can worsen the pain. Hydration will even help to avoid a postponement of pain”, reinforced the doctor.
Regarding medication, Eduardo Vasconcelos warned to be careful with the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, as we are also experiencing an increase in dengue cases.
“The guideline is to avoid pain in order to treat pain — which is a very common thing among the population; also avoid the use of acetylsalicylic acid, also known as AAS. In this case, it is best to avoid and use common pain relievers such as acetaminophen and dipyrone. Basically these two medications”, explained the orthopedist.
He said that even in cases where dengue was ruled out and chikungunya was diagnosed, the right thing is to avoid anti-inflammatories.
The use of paracetamol is the most indicated for patients with chikungunya. — Photo: Getty Images
“When the pain is longer, more intense, then these patients may need to use corticosteroids for some time; and in some more extreme cases, when this pain becomes chronic, that is, it lasts for more than two months, some patients may need to use special medications, such as immunobiologicals that are used in rheumatological diseases”, added Vasconcelos.
The specialist reinforces that in both cases, a doctor’s evaluation is necessary, due to possible side effects and contraindications of the drugs.
Home treatments for chikungunya
The use of compresses (hot and cold) and massage gels can also help to alleviate the pain. According to the orthopedist, although they are palliative, there is no problem in using these treatments.
“The compress, both cold and warm, can be used as long as it generates comfort. There are patients who will improve some of the pain, feel better with the cold compress, others with the warm compress, and there are patients who will not notice any improvement”, commented the doctor.
Cariri has a high incidence of chikungunya
“Gels can give relief, a sensation of freshness, but they will not effectively reduce pain or inflammation in the joint, because they act more superficially; will not penetrate the joint”, added Vasconcelos.
What to avoid eating if you have chikungunya
As for the diet, the doctor says that, if the person does not have a food allergy, there are no restrictions, a priori, when diagnosing chikungunya. The orthopedist also advises avoiding fatty foods and giving preference to lighter foods (such as white meat instead of red meat).
“If the patient has a food allergy, he obviously has to avoid it because in an allergic reaction he will have even more joint pain. So, care must be taken with allergenic foods”, explained Vasconcelos.
Attention to mosquito prevention
The biggest attention needs to be in the care to avoid the proliferation of Aedes aegypti, according to the orthopedist. — Photo: Breno Esaki/ Agência Saúde
The doctor also emphasizes that, despite the ways to relieve pain, greater attention needs to be taken in preventing the proliferation of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits the dengue, chikungunya and zika viruses.
“Don’t accumulate water, be careful with potted plants, tires, backyards. Anyway, all those precautions that we already know widely, but many people end up letting it go unnoticed; and this has generated a huge number of cases currently here in the state”, oriented the orthopedist.
Orthopedist Eduardo Vasconcelos gives tips on how to ease the pain of chikungunya. — Photo: Personal archive