It seems the hepatitis C virus (HCV) may damage the joints, as well as the liver. Hepatitis C is now being linked to the development of rheumatoid arthritis.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has been found to cause rheumatoid arthritis, even before HCV is detected. Hepatitis C can contribute to liver failure but is also known to cause rheumatoid arthritis – inflammation of the joints. Due to the link between HCV and rheumatoid conditions, it’s important that newly diagnosed patients of rheumatoid conditions also get tested for HCV as rheumatoid conditions can still occur before HCV is even detected.
A rheumatoid disease can be caused by HCV due to a related infection. Rheumatoid diseases cause pain in the joints, muscles and connective tissue. Joint swelling and blood vessel inflammation can occur as well. A recent study dove deeper into the connection between HCV and rheumatoid arthritis and uncovered what may link the two.
Hepatitis C virus infection linked with rheumatoid arthritis: Study
In a study published in PLoS One, researchers assessed the risk of rheumatoid arthritis in patients with HCV. Patients were studied from Taiwan, which has high rates of HCV, hepatitis B virus and rheumatoid arthritis. Data was collected from one million patients and 249,460 patients were identified for analysis. The number of patients diagnosed with chronic hepatitis was 49,892.
Hepatitis C patients were compared with 199,568 control individuals who did not have HCV, matched by age, sex and calendar year. Patients did not have rheumatoid arthritis at the beginning of the study, but cases were documented as they were diagnosed throughout the course of the study.