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Tying Joint Pain and Hepatitis C Together

Nicole Cutler L.Ac. October 29, 2012

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Having joint pain with Hepatitis C is very common – but pain relief that is liver-friendly is not well-known.

Although not viewed as a common symptom of liver disease, joint pain is a frequently encountered problem for those living with chronic Hepatitis C. Often going undiagnosed in its earliest stages, Hepatitis C sufferers rarely exhibit symptoms during their first decade of infection. Regarded by experts as one of Hepatitis C’s “extra-hepatic ┬ámanifestations,” joint pain could be a surprising source of a smoldering viral infection in the liver. In some instances, joint pain is the reason a person initially seeks medical help – an investigation that could conclude with a Hepatitis C diagnosis. For those with this chronic liver infection who seek relief for their joints, there are several, liver-friendly ways to ease the pain.

Although seemingly separate health issues, studies indicate that nearly one-third of people with Hepatitis C will have arthritis. As a problem that occurs outside of the liver, joint pain’s categorization as an extra-hepatic manifestation of Hepatitis C does not have a clear, recognized etiology. Although there can be many possible causes, the following represent two concrete links between this liver virus and painful joints:

  1. Medications – Joint pain is a common side effect of two medications used in the standard treatment protocol for Hepatitis C: peginterferon and ribavirin.
  2. Cryoglobulins – Antibodies the body makes in response to infection may cross-react with certain molecules in the joint, leading to inflammation and pain. In some people with Hepatitis C, specific antibodies called cryoglobulins may be the source of joint pain.

Even though Hepatitis C medications and the presence of cryoglobulins are known to induce joint pain, there are still a significant amount of joint pain sufferers with Hepatitis C who don’t fall into either category.

Physicians may prescribe a wide range of anti-inflammatory or other anti-rheumatic drugs for joint pain relief. However, the tendency for pain relieving medications to add an additional toxin load onto the liver makes this a difficult decision for many conscientious sufferers. Thankfully, there are alternatives. The following strategies may help those with joint pain while still being supportive of the liver:

  1. Heat – Highly regarded in cultures across the globe for safe pain relief, applying a heat pack or taking a warm bath can help relieve some types of joint pain. Relaxing contracted areas, heat expands muscles, ligaments, tendons and connective tissue. In addition, heat helps dissolve pain-inducing cryoglobulins.
  2. Inhibition of COX-2 Enzymes – While the COX-2 enzyme supports pain, inflammation and swelling, inhibiting COX-2 enzymes helps minimize many types of pain. Although several pharmaceutical versions of COX-2 inhibitors were discontinued due to their side effects, natural sources appear to offer the COX-2 inhibiting benefits without the risks.
  3. Glucosamine and Chondriotin – Many types of joint pain are related to the breakdown of cartilage, thus reducing the body’s natural cushioning between the bones in a joint. Glucosamine and chondroitin are both ingredients in healthy joint cartilage. Thus, providing the body with these raw materials needed for joint cushioning may help support healthy cartilage.
  4. Acupuncture – A 2,000 year old practice involving the insertion of fine, hair-thin needles into the skin, a large retrospective study just published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found acupuncture to be effective in relieving chronic pain.

The link between joint pain and Hepatitis C is often dismissed because the two don’t appear to have a direct association. Whether there is a cause and effect relationship or not, over 30 percent of people with this liver virus have documented joint pain too. Because of this large crossover, solutions such as heat, natural COX-2 inhibition, acupuncture, glucosamine and chondriotin are ideal for affected individuals so they can achieve pain relief without putting their liver in further jeopardy.

References:

http://hepatitis.about.com/od/symptoms/a/JointPain.htm, Joint Pain and Hepatitis, Charles Daniel, Retrieved September 29, 2012, about.com, 2012.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/11/health/health-acupuncture/index.html, Acupuncture Works, One Way or Another, Amanda Garnder, Retrieved September 29, 2012, Cable News Network, 2012.

http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/patient/pain/hepatitisC-pain.asp, Pain Associated with Hepatitis C, Retrieved September 29, 2012, US Department of Veteran Affairs, 2012.

http://www.rheumatology.org/practice/clinical/patients/diseases_and_conditions/hcvassociatedarthritis.asp, HCV and Rheumatic Disease, Retrieved September 29, 2012, American College of Rheumatology, 2012.

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  • MacLean Shakshober

    I find Ashwaghanda, the Tibetan herb to be helpful for my joint pain. I have had chronic HCV for 37 years and stick to herbs exclusively.

  • pam

    my DR told me today my liver is a little inflamed what this mean

  • pam

    hello im new help

  • Clint Mccullough

    Try smoking pot

  • You are saying right actually. This joint pain comes with hepatitis C, but it is not only the origin of joints pain. Joints pain generally occurs due to many health issues specially it happens due to some weakness in the body, however many more reasons are there for the same. Flying tiger cub oil is an ointment for treating joints pain, back pain, muscles pain and other body pains.

  • Here you are extremely right that sometimes it might be possible that Joints pain can come with the hepatitis C, Which can be dangerous for all of us. In that case take health experts advise immediately for the proper relief. However Flying tiger cub oil is the best treatment for joints pain. Mainly many people use the same for general joints pain.

  • Richard

    I have had a clique of joint problems/symptoms from overuse syndrome and failed surgery prior to any knowledge of the sleeping Hep C. Only upon seeing a former Hep C sufferer on youtube did I even think there was a correlation. For whatever reason it makes sense as some of them have accelerated way beyond normal as I’ve now found I’m stage 2. Arthritic on top of damaged joints, etc. A P.A. asked why I take Morphine and…”My patient portal shows 15 things and they are missing a few.” Damage control. There is no high. And for the articles sake ice is the only thing for inflammation at this point. I’ve controlled the dosage because of ice. Without it I’d easily double the amount. Hopefully Harvoni saves the day!

  • Edie Fowler

    I never had sevear joint pain with Hep C although I do have atthiritis. Now after 12 weeks of Harvoni my joints are aching so bad I am in tears. I think Harvoni cured my Hep C but now it hurts to walk because of the after math of Harvoni. What is that???????