6 surprising ways hepatitis C causes foot pain & problems

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Symptom information & treatment for toe, foot & ankle problems caused by hep C

hepatitis C foot pain

Hep C infection can cause many different symptoms affecting the feet & ankles including, burning, tingling, itching and pain.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection causing chronic liver disease. Hep C can be a mild, temporary sickness or a severe life-long infection. Liver disease can cause foot pain whether or not hepatitis C is involved.

Some patients with HCV have no symptoms, while others suffer from a wide range of painful and dangerous conditions as a result of the infection. A commonly recognized symptom is skin rash (there is more than one type associated with hep C) which can appear on the feet, ankles and elsewhere on the body.

There are several ways hepatitis C can cause pain or discomfort in the toes, feet and ankles.

Learn more about hepatitis C and foot problems:

The experienced surgical podiatrists at Advanced Foot & Ankle of Wisconsin can help patients get pain relief and treatment for any type of foot and ankle problem.

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Hepatitis C and Swelling in the Feet & Ankles

Chronic hepatitis C can lead to edema, a buildup of fluid. This is usually seen in the feet, ankles and legs. People suffering from hep C infection can have swollen or puffy feet and ankles as tiny blood vessels in the extremities leak, allowing fluids to build up. 

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Hepatitis C and Itchy Feet

hepatitis C foot swelling

Edema caused by chronic hepatitis C can result in swollen feet & ankles.

Around 20% of patients with late stage hepatitis C suffer from pruritus, severe itching of the skin.

The itching may be localized to the feet or hands or be widespread on the body.

Itchy feet in hep C patients may be caused by a buildup of toxins the liver is unable to eliminate. Itching can also manifest in non-late-stage patients arising from dry skin or side effects from treatment.

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Hepatitis C, Burning Feet and Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy, characterized by numbness, burning, tingling and/or pain in the hands and feet, is a nerve damage arising from hepatitis C infection and other health conditions.

The precise cause of HCV neuropathy has not been determined, and treatment may vary based on how the nerve damage occurred.

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Hepatitis C and Arthritis

The same virus causing hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) can also cause rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation of the joints, and pain and weakness in the muscles and connective tissue. This pain can occur in the feet, ankles, knees and elsewhere in the body.

The hepatitis C virus activates the body’s immune system which is constantly engaged in fighting the infection, leading to many potential symptoms including joint and muscle pain.

Treatment for symptoms of arthritis caused by HCV will depend on how severe the liver damage is, overall health, lifestyle and other factors.

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Hep C and Diabetes

Hepatitis C can induce diabetes, even if you’re at a healthy weight and have no family history of the disease.

Anyone with a hep C infection is at risk of developing diabetes because the HCV core protein interferes with how your body controls insulin resistance.

Because diabetes induced by hepatitis C begins differently from most diabetes cases, it may not be possible to prevent its onset. You can seek treatment for relief from diabetes foot pain, neuropathy and other symptoms.

Untreated diabetes allows glucose to build up in your bloodstream, which can cause a lot of damage to the small blood vessels found in your feet. Numb feet are more likely to get injured, heal more slowly from injury, and are at high risk of infection.

People infected with the hep C virus who experience tingling or numbness in the feet and hands, along with any other symptoms of the onset of diabetes should seek professional medical care as soon as possible.

Learn more about treatment for foot pain from diabetes or contact us to schedule an appointment today.

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Hep C and Kidney Disorders

hepatitis C burning and itchy feet

Skin rash or pruitus from hep C can cause itching in your feet and elsewhere.

Hepatitis C increases the risk of chronic kidney disease and other kidney diseases including:

  • Cryoglobulinemia (Cryoglobulins, abnormal proteins, clump together in the bloodstream and can accumulate in small blood vessels, restricting blood flow. The feet and kidneys have smaller blood vessels and can be affected.)
  • Membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis
  • Membranous neuropathy
  • Polyarteritis nodosa

Kidney disease can also cause foot pain and issues including swelling, cramps and ulcers.

HCV-related cryoglobulinemia can cause Raynaud’s phenomenon, a painful autoimmune disease commonly affecting the toes, fingers, nose and ears. The small blood vessels in your feet, toes and other extremities overreact to cold temperatures and/or stress, contracting and causing numbness, color change and stinging pain.

Raynaud’s has also been linked to hypothyroidism, another cause of foot pain.

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Foot pain and liver disease

Liver disease can cause pain and swelling in the feet. When the liver isn’t working right, excess fluid builds up in the lower extremities leading to edema.

Peripheral neuropathy in the feet (numbness, weakness and pain caused by nerve damage) has also been associated with chronic liver disease.

Hepatitis is the most common cause of liver disease. Other types of liver disease include cirrhosis of the liver (aka chronic liver disease), fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcohol-induced liver disease.

Any time the liver is compromised by disease there is potential for it to cause pain and/or swelling in the feet and ankles.

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Treating Foot, Ankle & Toenail Problems Associated with Hepatitis C

Because hepatitis C affects the liver, it is associated with a wide variety of symptoms and health problems affecting the feet, ankles, toes, skin, kidneys and the entire body. A compromised liver can even affect your toenails, as poor nutrition weakens hair and nail growth.

Whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with HCV, it’s important to see an experienced podiatrist whenever you notice a change in the health of your feet and ankles.

Early diagnosis is key for the most effective treatment of your pain.

Contact us online today to schedule an appointment at one of our 5 Milwaukee podiatry clinics.