A new study entitled “Fibromyalgia incidence among patients with hepatitis B infection” recently revealed that patients infected with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) have a higher incidence of fibromyalgia. The study was published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases and was conducted by researchers at Dicle University and the Yüzüncüyıl University in Turkey.
HBV infection is a potentially life-threatening condition that affects the liver and can cause both acute and chronic disease, increasing the patient’s risk of death from cirrhosis and liver cancer. It has been previously reported that patients infected with HBV have a high incidence of fibromyalgia, a disorder characterized by widespread chronic musculoskeletal pain, incapacitating fatigue, stiffness and numbness in certain parts of the body, painful response to pressure, headaches, unrefreshing sleep (poor sleep quality), anxiety or depression and mood alterations. Fibromyalgia can affect people’s ability to conduct simple daily tasks, compromising their quality of life.
Researchers have now evaluated the incidence of fibromyalgia among HBV patients and the associated clinical symptoms. In total, 118 HBV patients (mean age of 36 years) were assessed. Patients were divided into three groups: HBV carriers (40 patients), chronic active HBV patients (40 patients) and patients who had been treated with antiretroviral therapy for at least 3 months (38 patients). As a control group, 60 sex and age matched healthy individuals were also analyzed.
The team found that the serum levels of the liver enzymes aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) were significantly higher in HBV patients than in the control group, indicating liver damage. HBV patients also had a significantly higher fibromyalgia incidence, arthralgia (joint pain), widespread pain, sleep disturbance, fatigue, morning stiffness and anxiety in comparison to the control group. No differences were found in AST and ALT levels, fibromyalgia incidence, arthralgia, widespread pain, sleep disturbance and anxiety between the three groups of patients. The only exception was the mean body mass index that was found to be significantly higher in the HBV carrier group.
The research team concluded that HBV patients have indeed a higher fibromyalgia incidence in comparison to healthy controls, and propose HBV as a potential independent predictor of the disorder. The team found no differences in fibromyalgia incidence among the three HBV groups analyzed.