for Veterans and the Public
Pain associated with hepatitis C
Some patients with hepatitis C feel discomfort in the abdomen or in the area of the liver. This may be a dull ache or a sharp pain. Sometimes the pain can be mild, and occasionally it can be severe. The pain may come and go, or, for a few patients, it may persist. This sort of pain may be caused by a stretching of the outer edge of the liver, but it does not mean the hepatitis C is worsening.
Some people with hepatitis C experience sore joints--often in the small joints of the hands or ankles or wrists, but occasionally in other areas. Once in a while, hepatitis C causes the body to produce small proteins called "cryoglobulins," which can cause joint pain. If you develop joint pain, you should see your doctor and ask about cryoglobulins. Of course, most people who have hand pain or joint pain do not have hepatitis C, such as hand pain caused by arthritis, tendonitis orcarpal tunnel syndrome.
If there is abdominal pain due to hepatitis C, treating the hepatitis C with pegylated interferon and ribavirin will not necessarily change any abdominal pain which is experienced. The treatment of hepatitis C is not expected to better, worsen or have any effect on abdominal pain.
If there is pain due to hepatitis C related cryoglobulinemia, the treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin can (but not always) eliminate the cryoglobulins and improve the associated joint pains. If you have hepatitis C and cryoglobulins are detected, then treatment of hepatitis C may be a particularly good idea in order to improve this condition.
To summarize: Many people with hepatitis C experience pain. But pain does not mean that the hepatitis C is "getting worse." and may not be at all related to the hepatitis C. Most importantly, no matter where the pain is felt, it is important for you to discuss any sort of pain and any concerns with your health care provider.