Crohn Disease & Joint Pain – Is There Any Link?

Crohn Disease & Joint Pain - Is There Any Link?

A lot of people with Crohn disease experience joint pain at one point in their lives. It’s such a common symptom that scientists started wondering if there’s a connection between Crohn disease & joint pain.

Crohn disease is caused by inflammation, as part of the digestive tract gets swollen. It’s also inflammation that usually causes joint pain. So what’s the real link between these 2? Or is it simply a coincidence that appears in many patients?

I tried to do a brief research on this topic. I’m not an expert in Crohn disease because I never dealt with it. So I apologize if I mention anything wrong and you can feel free to correct me in any case. 



Crohn’s Can Cause Arthritis

Because it’s an anti-inflammatory condition, Crohn disease can also lead to secondary problems, like swollen joints. That’s what medicine calls “arthritis”. Scientist aren’t sure yet which is the actual connection between Crohn’s and arthritis, but they have a suspicion. 

Crohn Disease & Joint Pain - Is There Any Link?

According to a 2016 medical article, people with Crohn disease have a gene marker called HLA-B27. Apparently, it seems that this marker is responsible for causing inflammation, but not only in the digestive tract. That’s why scientists believe that people with this marker are more likely to develop Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory conditions, like arthritis. 

Obviously, having this marker doesn’t make you sick. But it can increase your chances of getting this condition at one point. So far, that’s the only evidence I found about arthritis & Crohn disease.

But about 20% people with Crohn disease develop arthritis. In my opinion, this percent is too high to be just a coincidence. So there’s probably a stronger link between these 2 health problems, but we just haven’t discovered it yet. 

However, there’s some good news. The arthritis from Crohn disease is usually harmless, which means that it doesn’t destroy the joints and cartilages, like RA does. So from this point of view, you shouldn’t worry too much.



Crohn’s Can Also Cause Joint Pain

A lot of people with Crohn disease experience arthritis at one point in the lives. But there’s an even higher percent that experience regular joint pain, or arthralgia.

So what’s the difference between arthritis and arthralgia? Can Crohn’s disease cause both of them?

Well, pretty much yes. Arthritis appears when the joints are swollen and it’s the swelling making them painful. On the other hand, your joints aren’t inflamed when you have arthralgia. They simply hurt, without being swollen. 

But why would your joints hurt if they’re not swollen? That’s pretty hard to explain, because in most cases, it’s inflammation that causes joint pain. So how can people with Crohn disease have joint pain without inflammation? 

Unfortunately, I haven’t found a clear answer to that. I personally never had any joint pain without inflammation, so I can’t speak from experience. But studies say that about 40% of people with Crohn disease develop arthralgia at one point, which is a huge percent.

But just like arthritis, the arthralgia from Crohn disease doesn’t harm the joints on the long term. It’s simply painful, but nothing more. than that.



What Can You Do About It?

As I said, not arthritis nor arthralgia can destroy your joints on the long term. Unlike RA or OA, they don’t affect the cartilages in any form. So from this point of view, you don’t need to keep them under control. It’s only the pain that bothers.

Crohn Disease & Joint Pain - Is There Any Link?So what solutions do you have when it comes to the pain?

Well, both arthritis and arthralgia appeared because you have Crohn disease. So once you keep this condition under control, they should both go away. Does this make sense? 

So what can you do about Crohn disease? It’s an auto-immune condition, so there isn’t any real cure. But it’s caused by inflammation, so if you manage to decrease inflammation, the symptoms should also decrease, do you agree? 

How exactly can you decrease inflammation? Normally, doctors would recommend NSAIDs, because they are the simplest option. But your digestive tract is already sensitive, and NSAIDS tend to affect the stomach and digestive system. So in this case, they would probably make your Crohn’s get worse.

What I personally recommend you (and I would probably use that if I had Crohn’s disease) are herbal remedies. There are several that work in inflammation, like cherries, Boswellia, celery, Cayenne pepper and most importantly, turmeric.

I would probably recommend you the last one, because it’s the most powerful when it comes to inflammation. However, turmeric can also affect the stomach, even though not as badly as NSAIDs. That depends of people, but in most cases, it’s pretty safe. So that’s my #1 alternative to NSAIDs in case of inflammation.



One Solution For Both Arthritis And Arthralgia

Crohn Disease & Joint Pain - Is There Any Link?The joint pain from Crohn disease isn’t very dangerous, fortunately. I would say it’s rather annoying. As I said before, the arthritis that appears in Crohn’s disease isn’t RA or OA, so it doesn’t destroy the joints. 

It’s simply painful and it can only get worse with NSAIDs. So if you have Crohn’s disease and you start getting painful joints, don’t panic. Chances are that your joints won’t get damaged, not even on the long term.

However, there’s something you can do. Check if they are swollen on not. Now exactly can you do this? It’s easy – if there’s inflammation, they should feel warm, or at least warmer than usual. Swollen joints can also be red, but that’s not always a must. I usually check based on their temperature, so that’s the best easiest way, in my opinion.

So if your joints are indeed inflamed, your Crohn’s probably caused you arthritis. In this case, turmeric is the best herbal remedy.

If your joints aren’t swollen and you only have arthralgia, I pretty much recommend you resting and applying ice. There’s no need for turmeric or other herb, as they are anti-inflammatory and couldn’t help you much. 



My Verdict – Is There A Link Between Crohn Disease & Joint Pain?

Even though scientists don’t have a lot of evidence, a lot of people with Crohn disease develop arthritis or joint pain. So is this just a coincidence? I don’t really think so. After all, 50% is a huge number. 

The good news is that Crohn disease couldn’t harm your joints. Even if you have arthritis or arthralgia, your cartilages won’t get damaged just because of this. So from this point of view don’t worry, Crohn’s won’t cause you RA or OA.

Obviously, pain is always annoying, but sometimes you can’t do much about it. That’s one of those situations. You can try herbal remedies like turmeric, but they usually help when there’s inflammation. If you have only arthralgia, I doubt they could decrease your pain considerably.

So overall, if you started experiencing joint pain because of your Crohn disease, don’t get too worried. It’s a pretty common symptom and it’s probably the Crohn’s that’s causing it. It should go away on its own normally, but it may take a while.

Try to rest and follow a healthy lifestyle, and it may go away sooner than you think. 

Heather Pharm.D.

Heather Tracy Foley is a Pharmacy graduate, Blogger and Author with a vast experience in health sciences. She has a particular interest in joint pain and rheumatology and spent several years studying health problems. You can find her on Pinterest or via email.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *