Musculoskeletal pain and fatigue are associated with chronic hepatitis C: a report of 239 hepatology clinic patients.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to identify the frequency of fatigue and musculoskeletal pain in hepatitis C compared with other liver diseases.

METHODS: Hepatology outpatients were evaluated by questionnaire for musculoskeletal pain and fatigue. Charts were reviewed for diagnoses, amino transferases, histology, treatment, and presence of hepatitis C by second generation ELISA and/or polymerase chain reaction. The frequency of symptoms in patients with and without hepatitis C were compared.

RESULTS: In 239 patients (mean age 46.7 +/- 11.6 yr; 52% male) musculoskeletal pain was present in 70% for 6.7 +/- 8.3 yr and fatigue in 56% for 3.3 +/- 5.1 yr. Backache was the most common complaint (54%), followed by morning stiffness (45%), arthralgia (42%), myalgia (38%), neck pain (33%), pain “all over” (21%), and subjective joint swelling (20%). Diffuse body pain was present in 23% on a pain diagram and was strongly associated with fatigue. There was a significant association between hepatitis C positivity and the presence of musculoskeletal pain (81% of HCV-positive compared with 56% of HCV-negative patients, respectively; p = 0.0001), and fatigue (67% compared with 44%; p = 0.001). Musculoskeletal pain was more frequent among patients with isolated hepatitis C infection than among patients with isolated hepatitis B or alcoholic liver disease (91%, 59%, and 48%, respectively; p = 0.004). Similarly, fatigue was more frequent among patients with isolated hepatitis C than among those with isolated alcoholic liver disease or hepatitis B (66%, 30%, and 29%, respectively; p = 0.004). There was no relationship between musculoskeletal complaints and possible route of acquiring hepatitis C, levels of aminotransferases, liver disease severity on biopsy, or interferon treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Musculoskeletal pain and fatigue are frequent in hepatology clinic attendees, particularly those with hepatitis C and are unrelated to severity of liver disease, route of infection, or interferon therapy.


Am J Gastroenterol 1999 May;94(5):1355-60.

Department of Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases, Oregon Health Sciences University, and Portland VA Medical Center, 97201, USA.

PMID: 10235218, UI: 99249297

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