News from Hepatitis Week of October 12, 2003 / Vol. 3 No. 41
Study: Hepatitis C Patients More Likely to Suffer from Fibromyalgia

Patients infected with the hepatitis C virus are more likely to suffer from fibromyalgia syndrome, according to a study reported in the September issue of Rheumatology International

Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic disorder characterized by widespread pain in the muscles, ligaments and tendons -- the fibrous tissues in the body. Most patients with fibromyalgia feel like they ache all over.

The muscles affected most are in the shoulders, buttocks, neck and lower back. This condition is not fatal and its cause is unknown.

Researchers from Cukurova University in Turkey evaluated the presence of fibromyalgia syndrome in 95 participants infected with the hepatitis C virus and 95 healthy participants who served as a control group.

Fibromyalgia syndrome was found in 18.9 percent of the hepatitis C-infected patients and 5.3 percent of the healthy study participants. Many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia were stronger in the hepatitis C-infected patients, including tenderness, intensity of pain, sleep disturbance, stiffness, and fatigue.

Lead researcher Dr. Erkan Kozanoglu told Medical Week that hepatitis C patients with fibromyalgia can be helped by cognitive and behavioural therapy, physical therapy and some types of exercises.

"It is hard but not impossible to treat these patients," Kozanoglu said. "They can get help from their physicians and also from psychiatrists, physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists and rheumatologists."

Other sources: Rheumatology International (2003 Sep;23(5):248-51)