Is There Any Proof That Viral Infections Are Linked with Fibromyalgia
A study published in the British Journal of Rheumatology looked at an association between fibromyalgia and viral infection. They proposed that fibromyalgia could be triggered by an infection with the hepatitis C virus, a virus that causes liver inflammation and often becomes chronic.
To look for a link, researchers did a complete physical exam and drew lab studies, including titers for the hepatitis C antibody, in 112 people diagnosed with fibromyalgia. They discovered as many as 15% of the fibromyalgia patients they studied had antibodies against the hepatitis C virus, compared to only 5% in a group of people who had rheumatoid arthritis but not fibromyalgia. They suggested based on these findings, that there is a probable association between fibromyalgia and viral infection with the hepatitis C virus.
Unfortunately, a more recent study published in the Journal of Rheumatology cast doubt on this link. It found no higher incidence of antibodies to the hepatitis C virus in fibromyalgia sufferers compared to the normal population. Another study looking at whether antibodies to parvovirus were higher in people with fibromyalgia found no statistically significant increase either.
So where does this leave us? As of now, there’s no real proof that viruses are linked with fibromyalgia, but some experts believe it’s still plausible. Viruses can become chronic, never leaving the body, and still subtly exert their influence by causing symptoms similar to those fibromyalgia sufferers experience. Viruses also alter the immune system, and an immune system over-response could account for the symptoms of fibromyalgia.