Is Arthritis connected with Gastrointestinal disease?
IBD or inflammatory bowel disease can either be in the form of Cohn disease or an ulcerative colitis. Both these are associated with inflammation of the intestinal tract.
Some patients suffering from IBD's are seen to develop a kind of an arthritis that is very similar to rheumatoid arthritis. With this kind of arthritis though, the inflammation only is seen in a few larger joints and isn't usually equal on both sides of the body. It may affect the ankle on one side and the knee on the other. Also anti-bodies that are usually found in the blood stream of the people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis are not present in someone who is suffering from inflammatory bowel disease type of arthritis. The IBD arthritis is associated with a gene called HLA-B27 and is seen to affect the lower spine (unlike the rheumatoid arthritis).
The problems with the bowels are seen to appear much before any symptoms of arthritis develop in inflammatory bowel disease.
What are the Symptoms?
The usual symptoms of the intestinal bowel disease like abdominal pain, lower bad cramps, bloody diarrhoea, weight loss and fever are seen along with swelling, pain, stiffness (limited motion) in the inflamed joins, especially in the morning that are associated with arthritis. Though the severity of the symptoms may vary from patient to patient.
How to diagnose this problem?
There is no test that can be done to diagnose the arthritis associated with IBD. The doctor or medical practitioner will have to see the patient's medical history and study the various symptoms to deduce that he is suffering from this problem. There is also no known way to prevent this disease from occurring.
What is the treatment for IBD arthritis?
Usually it is seen that inflammatory bowel disease arthritis is chronic and long lasting. However it may be more severe at times and milder at others. But the use of non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the joint pains can give immense relief like naproxen and ibuprofen. But taking such medication can also thin the blood thereby worsening the bleeding in the intestinal tract.
In some extreme cases corticosteroids injections are given to the joint, which provides immediate but only temporary relief. Some medications like azathioprine, oral corticosteroids or sulfasalazine that are given for treatment of intestinal issues can provide relief. Methotrexates that are prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis can also help. There are also some new agents like injections of certolizumabpegol, infliximab, adalimumab and etanercept that are known to help. There are some medicines that help in the case of severe Crohn's disease that can improve the inflammation in the bowels and the relief from the arthritis. Surgery of the damaged joints-that involves replacement of the joint may be required in certain severe cases.
The patients must rest enough but also must exercise regularly. Physical therapy or occupational therapy is recommended by doctors to help in the movements of the joint. Also wearing braces or shoe inserts can provide relief in walking.
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