A woman suffered from three years of chronic pain after getting a tattoo on her left thigh, which is a bizarre medical case that her doctors reported in the BMJ Case Reports journal.
The complication that the woman went through due to her tattoo was the first recorded instance of such an incident. What happened to the woman, and does it mean that people should avoid getting tattoos?
Tattoo Gives Woman 3 Years Of Chronic Pain
According to the report, the woman suffered the first documented case of inflammatory myopathy as a complication of a tattoo on an immunosuppressed individual.
The woman underwent a double lung transplant in 2009, and to ensure that her body will not reject the new organs, she has been taking drugs to weaken her immune system.
She eventually got a tattoo on her right leg without any trouble. However, after getting another tattoo on her left thigh, a mild rash appeared. After a week and a half, the woman's left thigh and leg started to become so painful that she needed painkillers.
Ten months later, the pain was still troubling her, so she visited a rheumatology clinic. A biopsy of her thigh muscles revealed that she was suffering from inflammatory myopathy, or chronic muscle inflammation. The condition causes muscle weakness and pain, and often, its cause is unknown.
Doctors believe that the inflammatory myopathy may be attributed to her tattoo, as it may have had a negative effect on the woman's weakened immune system.
"While we acknowledge that there is no evidence to definitely prove the causative effect, the timing of onset and the location of the symptoms correlated well with the tattoo application and there were no other identifiable factors to cause the pathology," the doctors wrote in the case report.
The woman received physiotherapy for strengthening her muscles. One year after the pain started, she began seeing improvements. However, it was not until after three years that the pain was completely gone.
Risks Of Getting A Tattoo
Are tattoos safe? This incident, with the woman having a weakened immune system, may look like a corner case, but getting tattoos carries many risks.
There have been recent reports of infections caused by microblading, a form of semi-permanent tattoo, as well as eye tattoos that have gone wrong. These cases may portray getting tattoos as dangerous.
However, getting tattoos from licensed tattoo artists with the proper equipment and in the proper setting are generally considered safe. In addition, tattoos are starting to have other applications, such as a smart tattoo that changes colors when the person's blood sugar goes up too high.