Aches and Pains


 Aches & Pains: Will I be in pain?

Many patients taking interferon experience some general aches and pains.  These symptoms may persist throughout the course of treatment, but they are usually most intense during the first month.  

Question:  What are these aches and pains like?
Answer:  They can mimic flu symptoms, such as:

• Muscle and joint aches 

• Headache

• Low-grade fever 

• Chills  

• Fatigue and weakness 

If you can't reach your healthcare provider and you are having a serious side effect (such as chest pain or severe depression), please seek immediate medical attention or call 911.

Question:  How do I manage them while on treatment?
Answer:  Here are some pain management strategies: 

• Drinking plenty of fluids will help keep your body hydrated and potentially help some of these symptoms. 

• Stay busy! Go to movies, attend community events, go on trips, visit an old friend, ride a bike, take a walk, begin a new hobby. Take the time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. These ideas may help divert your attention from your symptoms. 

• Consider alternative treatments.  Acupuncture or therapeutic massage may relieve pain effectively for some people. Hot showers, compresses, and soaking in a hot tub may also help relax muscles and soothe symptoms.  

Use of Medications 

A common way to manage pain is to take acetaminophen (Tylenol®*) as directed by your health care provider or the product label (never exceed recommended dosages).  Acetaminophen may be helpful when taken about half an hour before injection. This may also help with headaches.
AVOID aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol®*), and ibuprofen (like Motrin®* or Advil®*) if your liver is severely damaged. Ask your health care provider which over-the-counter medication is right for you.

Patients that suffer from significant liver scarring or cirrhosis should avoid taking any kind of aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil®*).
If all else fails and pain becomes intense and/or chronic, talk to your health care provider about other treatment possibilities.

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