It was incredibly painful,” said Ellen DeGeneres. “I had no idea that was a symptom.

With Ellen DeGeneres’ chat show ending after 19 seasons, many fans have reflected on the highs and lows of her career. Recently, the 64-year-old shared that she experienced “excruciating” back pain after contracting COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic.

DeGeneres decided to step away from the spotlight amid allegations of a toxic workplace environment on her show, choosing instead to focus on her passion for animal conservation. She recently completed The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Rwanda.

After being diagnosed with COVID-19, DeGeneres shared an update on social media, expressing her surprise at having back pain as a symptom. She stated that she had followed “proper precautions” when she caught the virus in December 2020.

A week later, DeGeneres released another health update, declaring she was “100%” recovered. She explained that severe back pain was a symptom she hadn’t been warned about. “I feel fantastic,” she said. “What they don’t tell you is that you will have severe back pain. I had no idea that was a symptom until I spoke with a few other people.”

Back when DeGeneres contracted COVID-19, research into symptoms was still evolving. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) did not initially list back pain as a symptom, though “muscle or body aches” were included. Other early COVID-19 symptoms included fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The NHS explains that many people experience back pain and other joint and muscle issues during illness due to reduced activity. Illness can exacerbate pre-existing conditions or lead to new pain due to inactivity. People who are less active may experience stiffness and muscle weakness, impacting daily activities like standing, climbing stairs, and lifting objects.

The rise of remote work during the pandemic also contributed to increased reports of back pain. A study in Malta found that 30% of participants experienced chronic back pain before the pandemic, compared to 49% after COVID-19 emerged, with many reporting back pain for the first time.

DeGeneres’ experience underscores the evolving understanding of COVID-19 symptoms and highlights the broader impact of the pandemic on daily health and activity levels.