What Is Enteropathic Arthritis?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2018
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Enteropathic arthritis is a medical term used to describe joint pain and inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. While the exact cause of this form of arthritis is not clearly understood, a genetic component is strongly suspected. Lower back pain is the chief symptom of enteropathic arthritis, and this pain is often worse during an exacerbation of the bowel disease. Treatment often includes the use of over-the-counter or prescription medications and physical therapy, although surgical intervention may sometimes become necessary. As enteropathic arthritis affects each person differently, a doctor should be consulted for assistance in creating an individualized treatment plan based on specific needs.

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are inflammatory conditions that affect the intestinal tract and cause symptoms such as abdominal pain and alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea. Those who have either of these conditions may develop a form of joint inflammation known as enteropathic arthritis. Back pain and stiffness, particularly affecting the lower back, are the primary symptoms of this condition. Abnormal blood cell counts are commonly seen among people who have enteropathic arthritis.


In most cases, the pain and stiffness associated with enteropathic arthritis occur around the same time as an exacerbation of intestinal symptoms, although this is not always the case. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen may help relieve some of the inflammation and discomfort associated with this inflammatory disease. Stronger pain medications or steroid injections may become necessary if the pain becomes severe enough to significantly limit mobility.

Exercise is an important part of enteropathic arthritis treatment, although care should be taken so that further damage to the joints does not occur. The supervising physician may refer the patient to a physical therapist for individualized treatment. A physical therapist is trained to help the patient create an exercise program that will keep the muscles of the back strong while avoiding further injury. In many cases, water aerobics or swimming are recommended for those who suffer from chronic back pain.

Occasionally, surgical intervention may be needed for those with enteropathic arthritis. This type of invasive treatment is typically used as a last resort when there is severe damage to the spine and other methods of treatment have not been successful. There are always potential risks associated with surgery, so all questions and concerns should be discussed with a doctor before the procedure is performed.



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