U of A researchers say COVID-19 can give a false sense of pain relief

May help explain asymptomatic patients

U of A COVID-19 pain relief research

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - University of Arizona researchers have discovered that COVID-19 can give a false sense of pain relief. Many people with COVID-19 don’t show symptoms right away or are asymptomatic entirely, which sparked the interest of researchers at the U of A.

“When you have an infection, you feel you have muscle aches or maybe headaches, and we found that maybe the virus could dampen this natural reaction of the body that tells you something is wrong,” said Aubin Moutil, a PHD research assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the U of A.

Researchers said the virus is using a new protein to enter the cells, and found it’s causing pain relief.

“Giving you this false sense of belief that you’re pain free and you may not have the virus,” said Rajesh Khanna, a PHD professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the U of A. “That has devastating consequences on your ability to spread the virus.”

Animals given this new protein spiked with a piece of COVID-19 didn’t feel pain. A surprising discovery when looking at a virus that has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There’s a virus that’s doing lots of things and causing deaths across the world, yet in the initial stages it’s giving you pain relief,” Dr. Khanna said. “So, it’s very counter to what your mind is programmed to think.”

Researchers said the pain relief may cause an infected person to not experience symptoms and unknowingly spread the virus.

“It’s also showing its ability to be very sneaky in that it’s causing pain relief, and what if other viruses in the future use the same strategy,” Dr. Khanna said.

Next, researchers are interested in learning how this discovery could help in pain relief research but are in the very preliminary stages.

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