Understanding The Link Between Arthritis and Ulcerative Colitis

arthritis-with-ulcerative-colitis
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

Overview of Arthritis and Ulcerative Colitis

Arthritis and Ulcerative Colitis – both very common conditions of which you have probably heard of. But have you ever stopped to think that these two conditions might be linked? Yes, we know what your natural answer would be – they are affecting two very different body systems.

Yes, the symptoms are not the same, nor the causes. So how it is possible for these two health problems to be connected? Quite an easy thing to understand actually. And according to form the number of people dealing with Arthritis with Ulcerative Colitis right now, it is not impossible.

Not one of these conditions is easy to manage and to live with. And that is exactly why it is important to learn how to prevent it but also when you should ask for your doctor’s opinion as you notice some of the symptoms occurring. All of that and more will be talked about in the following article. So concentrate and get ready to learn new and useful information that can make your life easier.

What should you know about Arthritis?

Unfortunately, a very common condition around the world, Arthritis is well known and spoken of. Defined as a group that includes over 100 different types, Arthritis is surely not an easy thing to live with. Unfortunately for these patients, they are going to live and manage their Arthritis for the rest of their lives, since no cure* is yet available. The main symptoms – muscle stiffness, joint pain and decreased* the range of motion cause great disability, decreasing* the chances for a normal life for these patients. But luckily there are different treatment options that prove to be efficient, causing great relieved of these symptoms and decreasing* the disability among these patients. So how can a condition like this be linked to an inflammatory bowel disease? First, let’s review a bit about the basics of Ulcerative Colitis.

What should you know about Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative Colitis, along with Crohn’s disease, is an inflammatory bowel disease. An inflammatory bowel disease is defined as a chronic inflammation of some part of the digestive system. In this case, we are talking about a chronic inflammation of the colon and the rectum. Unfortunately, the researchers are still not close to finding out the exact cause for this condition.

Bleeding from the rectum, diarrhea, and stomach cramps and the most common symptoms. What is most characteristic of this condition is the fact that the symptoms can come and go over a period of 10 years and more. And there are people who experience the symptoms non-stop, throughout their whole lives. This is yet another condition for which no cure* is yet available, although there are certain medications and treatment options that seem to cause certain symptom relief*.

Can Ulcerative Colitis cause Arthritis?

The answer to your question is yes, unfortunately. But can you guess the link between Ulcerative Colitis and Arthritis? It may seem a bit unbelievable*, but Arthritis is a common extraintestinal complication of Ulcerative Colitis. Known as Enteropathic Arthritis, this type of Arthritis is another group that includes several types. In this group, you can find the Ankylosing spondylitis, Reactive Arthritis, and Psoriatic Arthritis, as well as the peripheral and axial Arthritis.

What is the Link between Arthritis and Ulcerative Colitis?

When Arthritis develops as a complication of either Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis, usually it is one large joint on the one side of the body affected. For example, the inflammation can affect your knee on the right side and your ankle on the left side. And according to a research published in the Journal of Clinical and Developmental Immunology, 17 to 20% of the patients with some kind of inflammatory bowel disease develop peripheral Arthritis at some point of their lives.

This type of Arthritis is also known as migratory since it begins by affecting the large joints and then it often continues by moving from one joint to another. What is most interesting is the level of inflammation of the joints that seems to be to the same extent as the inflammation of the colon caused by the Ulcerative Colitis. Although both of these conditions cannot be entirely cured, it turns out that as soon as the symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis are managed with the proper treatment, the inflammation of the joints decreases* as well. Axial arthritis, or also known as Spondylitis, also occurs, however, not so common as the peripheral Arthritis.

The symptoms of Spondylitis can develop months, even years before the Ulcerative Colitis. Affecting the lower back, Spondylitis causes great disability among these patients. And last but not least – the Ankylosing spondylitis that more severe but less* common among the patients with Ulcerative Colitis. Actually, Ankylosing spondylitis seems to be more common within patients dealing with Crohn’s disease. Any of these symptoms are treated separately from the symptoms caused by Ulcerative Colitis, most commonly with the use of nonsteroid anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. This is the normal procedure for any type of Arthritis where the goal is to relieve the symptoms and decreases* the disability.

Why does Ulcerative Colitis cause joint pain?

As you can probably guess, the joint pain that occurs as a symptom of some type of Enteropathic Arthritis develops because of the inflammation caused by Ulcerative Colitis. And no, the cause for this is yet to be found out. In normal circumstances, for some unknown reasons, inflammation occurs and affects some or more than one joint, what is later diagnosed as some type of Arthritis.

So it is not a different story this time – it is still the inflammation that has first occurred because of the Ulcerative Colitis that has later only spread and affected some joints in the body, causing the common Arthritis symptoms to develop as well. But the good news is that there are some promising suggestions for a colectomy (removal of the colon) to make the Arthritis symptoms, as well as the Ulcerative colitis symptoms, to go away.

Conclusion

Having to deal with a health issue during your whole life is currently not an easy thing to do. Take Arthritis or Ulcerative Colitis as an example. Both being though conditions to manage, to find a treatment option for that will actually cause some symptoms relief* and give these patients a break is a hard enough task. Imagine dealing with joint pain every day. Now imagine dealing with stomach cramps, vomiting, appetite loss every day. Can you imagine dealing with all of these symptoms at once? Because that is what a number of patients actually do every day. We are talking about an Ulcerative Colitis induced Arthritis. Yes, that is a real thing. Arthritis with Ulcerative Colitis is no joke. And although there might not be any cures yet, the researchers have not forgotten of this mix of symptoms that a number of patients experience every day.

So if you are dealing with Ulcerative Colitis and start experiencing joint pain that does not go away, do not hesitate to consult with your doctor. Do not be scared, there are things that your doctor can do so that these symptoms decrease* and you start living a more normal life.

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Author

Expert Author : Beth Solomon (Consumer Health Digest)

Beth Solomon has been writing articles on health for more than two years with a concentration on pain management and men’s and women’s health and fitness. She has been a contributing editor to Consumer Health Digest since 2013.