Often, arthritis can appear before the symptoms of IBD, especially in children with Crohn’s disease. If your child develops arthritis, Crohn’s should be considered, even if your child isn’t yet experiencing any intestinal symptoms and occult stool tests are negative.Another form of arthritis called “spinal arthritis” – or spondylitis – can occur years before the onset of more common IBD symptoms, such as bloody diarrhea and abdominal pain. Spondylitis produces pain and stiffness in the lower spine and sacroiliac joints. A more sinister and rare form of spinal arthritis called “ankylosing spondylitis” can lead to inflammation of the eyes, lungs and heart valves. Both forms of spondylitis are serious illnesses that can severely limit your quality of life and lead to serious complications. It’s important to seek timely treatment or better yet, try to prevent the onset of arthritis if you’re at risk because you suffer from IBD.
Prevention is key for IBD sufferers.
If you suffer from IBD – be it either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease – it’s important to talk to a doctor about preventative measures you can take to avoid arthritis. As the saying goes – and it’s particularly true in this case – the best offense is defense.
Clearly, people suffering from colitis and arthritis need to address both diseases. Otherwise, you’ll be simply relieving symptoms rather than treating the underlying cause. For example, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen) along with steroid injections are often used to treat arthritis and lessen pain associated with it. But if you’re an IBD sufferer – beware! NSAIDs can irritate your intestinal lining and lead to more inflammation. It’s important that your treatment plan considers all aspects of both conditions.
If you’re overweight, try to lose weight. Your diet should be modified according to your body neeeds, avoiding specific triggers that lead to your symptoms. Although you need to follow a special diet (i.e. gluten-free in celiac disease or meat-free in gout and other arthitic pain), it is important to keep all the essential nutrients, especially protein, in balance with proper quantity and quality of minerals and vitamins. Controlling your nutrition will be the most important tool on your road to wellness.