Musculoskeletal Pain in Long COVID (MUSLOC)

  • End date
    Dec 31, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Leeds
Updated on 9 May 2022


Long COVID is a new disease, with musculoskeletal pain being one of the common presenting symptoms. This longitudinal study will explore the long COVID musculoskeletal pain aetiology, pathophysiology, impact on function and quality of life, prognosis and its natural evolution.


Long COVID is defined as signs and symptoms that develop during or after an infection consistent with COVID-19, continue for more than four weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis. It has been estimated there are 2 million people in the UK alone with long COVID symptoms. Most people with long COVID experience some limitation to their daily activities. This causes new challenges to the patients and their families as well as to the healthcare system. Musculoskeletal (MSK) pain is one of the most common reported symptoms in long COVID. The causes and underlying mechanisms of MSK pain in long COVID are not fully understood yet. A few underlying mechanisms have been hypothesised to cause the pain including detrimental impacts of the virus on neurological functions and central nervous system; immunologic aberrations and inflammatory damage in response to the acute infection; expected sequelae of post-critical illness involving deconditioning process following a period of inactivity, bed rest or sedentary lifestyle associated with the viral infection.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the clinical characteristics, etiopathological mechanisms and the natural course of pain, and to understand its physical and psychosocial consequences. We will also analyse the correlation of pain to clusters of long COVID symptoms. We anticipate the results of this study will help the healthcare providers to deliver adequate management for patients with long COVID.

This is a longitudinal study to observe 100 patients with long COVID pain throughout an 18-month period. Pain assessment will be undertaken using validated methods, that include blood tests to detect inflammatory biomarkers, clinical examination, standardised pain instruments/scales, Quantitative Sensory Testing to measure changes in sensitivity, and electroencephalography to measure brain network activity. Physical activity measurements include Timed Up and Go Test to assess balance and mobility, Rated Perceived Exertion Scale to measure exercise intensity, and Hand-Grip Dynamometer test to measure handgrip strength. In addition, we will use psychological assessment tools to assess the severity of depression and anxiety, and self-efficacy and pain-related thoughts.

Condition COVID-19, Musculoskeletal Pain
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05358119
SponsorUniversity of Leeds
Last Modified on9 May 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or self-reported symptoms of COVID-19 confirmed by an independent clinician
New onset musculoskeletal pain that develops during or following an infection consistent with COVID-19, continues for 4 weeks or more and is not explained by an alternative diagnosis
Age 18 years or older
Ability of participant to understand and the willingness to sign a written informed consent document
Stated willingness to comply with all study procedures and availability for the duration of the study
Ability of participant to read and understand English

Exclusion Criteria

People with pre-covid chronic pain syndrome
Unable to provide informed consent
Specific exclusion for Electroencephalogram (EEG): Patients with history of epileptic seizures
Clear my responses

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Additional screening procedures may be conducted by the study team before you can be confirmed eligible to participate.

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If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

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Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

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