Arthritis in intestinal diseases, What is it?
In arthritis there is a joint inflammation. This can occur with some intestinal diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This often involves the back, pelvis, arms and legs. The arthritis often appears to exist before the bowel disease causes symptoms. Arthritis in intestinal diseases usually starts between 25 and 45 years. It is equally common among men and women.
Symptoms of arthritis in intestinal diseases.
The affected joint hurts and is stiff. Sometimes it is thick and warm. With these intestinal diseases, other complaints can sometimes occur, such as skin complaints, eye problems and mouth ulcers.
How does arthritis develop in intestinal diseases?
With Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the immune system is disrupted. This causes inflammatory reactions in the intestines. The same mechanisms can also play in the joints.
Is it serious what can you expect?
The doctor can make a diagnosis based on the complaints, the findings from the physical examination, blood tests and radiographs. The blood is tested for evidence of inflammation and genetic factors. The X-ray can provide additional information, but often there are no details on a photo of an inflamed joint.
In Crohn’s disease, the symptoms of the intestines and those of the joints generally alternate and are usually not present at the same time. This is often the case with ulcerative colitis. The inflammation can sometimes jump from one joint to the other. The joint complaints are usually transient. Rarely has the joint been damaged.
The treatment of joint complaints is symptomatic. That is, aimed at reducing pain and inflammation. Various medicines take advantage of this. First, an anti-inflammatory pain reliever (NSAID) will be chosen. If the effect is insufficient, more powerful agents are chosen that intervene in the immune response and / or system (sulfasalazine, methrotrexate, biologicals)
When to the doctor?
In general it is advisable to make an appointment with the doctor quickly with complaints that indicate an arthritis. This concerns complaints of stiffness and pain. A joint can also be thick and warm. The doctor can determine the cause of your symptoms. Based on this, treatment can be set. Some forms of arthritis require rapid treatment to reduce the risk of joint damage.
What can you do about it yourself?
There is still much unclear about the development of arthritis in intestinal diseases. You probably cannot do anything yourself to prevent the development of arthritis. There are, however, factors that have a favorable effect on the course and severity of the complaints. You can influence a number of these factors yourself. (see: General advice and precautions).
General advice and precautions
Exercise: exercise is important for keeping the joints flexible, it prevents osteoporosis and has a beneficial effect on the heart and lungs. Sports, where the joints are evenly loaded, are preferred (walking, cycling, swimming). The load must be tailored to the complaints. If the symptoms increase after or during exercise, the intensity must be reduced. A physical therapist can guide you through this. Preventing overload is important.
Nutrition: A healthy, varied diet and a healthy body weight have a beneficial effect. Excessive alcohol consumption is disadvantageous.
Heat: In general, heat has a beneficial effect on the symptoms, for example with a warm bath or hot shower.
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