What is shingles?

Shingles, which afflicts ex-Pres. Arroyo, comes from the same virus that causes chickenpox

AFTER ARRAIGNMENT. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leaves the Sandiganbayan in a wheelchair after she entered a "not guilty" plea in connection to graft charges.

MANILA, Philippines – Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo attended her arraignment on Wednesday, April 11, while afflicted with a disease called shingles, and left the courtroom in a wheelchair due to back pains.

Mrs Arroyo has often complained of back pains. What is shingles?

Shingles is a painful skin rash triggered by the varicella zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox, says the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC says that in the United States alone, almost 1 out of every 3 persons will develop shingles. It can affect anyone who has recovered from chickenpox, as well as children.

Persons 60 years, older

The health database adds about 50% of shingles cases afflict persons 60 years and older. Mrs Arroyo turned 65 only last week. 

“After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays in the body in a dormant (inactive) state. For reasons that are not fully known, the virus can reactivate years later, causing shingles,” the CDC says. “People who develop shingles typically have only one episode in their lifetime. In rare cases, however, a person can have a second or even a third episode.”

Mrs Arroyo, who entered a “not guilty” plea in connection to alleged graft in the botched NBN-ZTE deal, spoke about her ailment in an interview before her arraignment. 

“I felt the symptoms Friday; there was severe backache. Then Monday, the acupuncture doctors saw the blisters. I did not go to Mass yesterday as I have not been feeling well because of the shingles. It’s like a very, very bad case of flu,” Mrs Arroyo said.

GMA’s osteoarthritis

Mrs Arroyo left the Sandiganbayan roughly 45 minutes after her party arrived, exiting the building in a wheelchair. “Nanlalambot na. Masakit ang likod niya (She’s feeling weak. She’s enduring back pains),” former First Gentleman Arroyo told reporters.

Her back pains, or more precisely her osteoarthritis, has led to her hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center due to an electoral sabotage charge.

“Osteoarthritis is a disease characterized by degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint as well as bony overgrowth. The breakdown of these tissues eventually leads to pain and joint stiffness. The joints most commonly affected are the knees, hips, and those in the hands and spine,” the CDC explains.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, the CDC says. Its onset is gradual, usually beginning after an affected person turns 40.

It can be treated on an out-patient basis, Mrs Arroyo’s doctor himself testified before the Pasay Regional Trial Court last February. Her orthopedic surgeon, Dr Antonio Sison, said Arroyo needs heat therapy and electrical stimulation. – Rappler.com