(NEXSTAR) — A new study has found that in some COVID-19 patients, the illness can cause “the body to attack itself.”
Published in the journal Skeletal Radiology on Wednesday, the study uses radiological imaging to trace the impacts of COVID-19 on the body.
It found that in some patients, COVID-19 can lead to rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune myositis — in which the body’s immune system attacks itself — and “COVID toes,” or abnormalities in the tissues of the toes.
“We’ve realized that the COVID virus can trigger the body to attack itself in different ways, which may lead to rheumatological issues that require lifelong management,” said study author Dr. Swati Deshmukh in a statement.
Body aches and pains are common symptoms of COVID-19, but the study finds that the impacts on the body can extend much further.
“That imaging allows us to see if COVID-related muscle and joint pain, for example, are not just body aches similar to what we see from the flu — but something more insidious,” Deshmukh said.
The study describes a slew of sometimes rare symptoms of COVID-19, including inflammatory changes in tissue, hematomas (collections of blood) and gangrene. In some cases, the patients’ nerves were injured or they experienced blood clots.
Radiologists may be able to use imaging to determine that a patient had previously suffered from the virus without their knowledge.
“It’s important for doctors to know what’s happening in order to treat correctly,” Deshmukh concluded.
There have been more than 110,000,000 worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID tracker. More than 2,434,000 people have died.