A woman holding a red pain in her abdomen

Hep C and Pain

Last updated: January 2023

Is your pain part of your hep C, or do you suspect/know it is? Did you have pain that went away once you were treated successfully, or has it persisted for longer than you had hoped or expected?

I have pondered these questions and heard from others who express their experiences with hep C and the pain that may be caused or complicated by living with the virus. Is something unrelated going on, or has another condition been worsened (exacerbated) because of the virus?

The damage from hep C

So many things cannot be identified with absolute certainty as being attributed to hep C.

This does not mean that none can be attributed or made to be worsened because of the virus. If you have lived with hep C for decades, chances are good that the virus has caused some level of damage, and some of the damage can cause pain from inflammation or dysfunction.

It has been a list of digestive issues, and as I have discovered, it is not so unique to my experience. The liver is part of the digestive system, and along with many other functions, digestion is one.

Digestive complaints often cause pain, and no surprise to any of us who have had these difficulties. Understanding how hard it can be to know the cause of abdominal pain, with so many possible causes, only make it more difficult to address in a way that makes good sense.

The pain we feel

We can experience all kinds of pain associated with hep C, and many will resolve after treatment, with some at least lessening.

This leads us to pain management. Far too many people face great challenges finding dependable and safe ways to manage their pain. Given the stigma surrounding a hep C diagnosis, access to pain medications is no easy task and made worse due to the so-called “opioid crisis,” which is largely a toxic drug supply crisis.

Addiction/dependency has always been looked down upon and considered a weakness of character instead of being addressed as a condition that can be treated. Sadly, the resources to treat people depend on our ability to pay and not on need.

Pain is not a condition that is easily navigated in health delivery systems. Acute pain from an accident is generally dealt with in a well-understood way in a predictable trajectory, but what about chronic pain caused by a virus?

The mechanism of how it works is not well understood and not unique to hep C, but yes, pain can be a symptom of one of the extrahepatic manifestations caused by hep C. It is not always pain from the viral activity but the damage it causes.

If the damage caused is not severe, there is a good chance that with successful treatment and cure, the pain will lessen and hopefully disappear altogether.

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