Hepatitis C Arthritis

Hepatitis C virus, or HCV, is the leading cause of liver failure and needing a liver transplant. The virus can also cause inflammatory arthritis, muscle pains and weakness, and vasculitis, which can cause skin and kidney failure problems. Painful joints and muscles with fatigue are the first complaints for HCV associated arthritis. Cryoglobulinemia is when abnormal proteins change shape and interfere with blood flow in the cold.

This can cause Raynaud’s phenomenon with finger tips turning white. HCV is now commonly spread through sharing needle for intravenous drug abuse or sharing instruments to snort cocaine. It is now rare to obtain it from blood transfusions, and unlikely through unprotected sex with an infected partner.

The diagnosis is made by finding antibodies against the virus on blood tests. A test to determine the amount of HCV confirms the diagnosis and shows how active the virus is. Liver function tests are followed, and the patient should stop all meds that could hurt the liver. HCV can be treated with good success to try to minimize the chronic complaints of living with this infection. Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with anti-tumor necrosis factor drugs (Enbrel www.enbrel.com, Humira, Cimzia www.cimzia.com, Simponi www.simponi.com, Remicade www.remicade.com, and Simponi Aria www.simponiaria.com) seems to be safe in HCV patients.