Myalgia as a Symptom of Viral Hepatitis

Myalgia is generalized muscle pain. Myalgia can be a symptom of viral hepatitis as well as other illnesses both infectious and autoimmune. Drugs, including interferon (sometimes used to treat viral hepatitis), can also cause myalgias. Hepatitis is an infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation.

Man massaging his shoulder
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Of interest to word lovers, myalgia is made up of very common word parts. Many medical words contain either some variation of myo, which is a prefix for muscle, or algia, which is a word ending for pain. Medical examples are myocardial which is heart muscle and neuralgia which is pain that runs along a nerve.

Myalgia can range from mild to excruciating, and it can last from a few days to a few months. Myalgia can develop almost anywhere in your body, including your neck, back, legs, and even your hands. Muscle pain also can involve ligaments, tendons, and fascia. Fascia are the soft tissues that connect muscles, bones, and organs.

Home Care for Myalgia

Certain muscle aches respond well to massage. Gentle stretching exercises after a long rest period can also help.

Walking, cycling and swimming are good aerobic activities to try to help restore proper muscle tone. A physical therapist can teach you stretching, toning, and aerobic exercises to help you feel better and stay pain-free. Begin slowly and increase workouts gradually. Avoid high-impact aerobic activities and weight lifting while in pain.

Be sure to get plenty of sleep and try to reduce stress.

If home care does not work, your physician may prescribe medicine or physical therapy, or refer you to a specialized pain clinic.

If your muscle aches are due to a specific disease, such as hepatitis, follow the instructions of your provider to treat the primary illness.

What to Expect From a Physical Exam for Muscle Pain

Your healthcare provider will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your muscle pain, such as:

  • When did it start? How long does it last?
  • Where is it exactly? Is it all over or only in a specific area?
  • Is it always in the same location?
  • What makes it better or worse?
  • Do other symptoms occur at the same time, like joint pain, fever, vomiting, weakness, malaise (a general feeling of discomfort or weakness), or difficulty using the affected muscle?
  • Is there a pattern to the muscle aches?
  • Was the onset sudden or gradual?
  • Is it worse in the morning?
  • Was there any trauma?
  • Have you taken any new medicines lately?

Tests that may be done include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Other blood tests to look at muscle enzymes (creatine kinase) and possibly a test for Lyme disease or a connective tissue disorder
  • Thyroid function tests
  • Tests for rheumatic disease

Physical therapy may be helpful.

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Article Sources
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  • Mayo Clinic. "Muscle pain."
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus. "Muscle aches."