Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis often cause problems outside of the restroom for many of its warriors. To continue the “Beyond the Bathroom” series, we discuss symptoms of IBD, like body aches and pains, skin problems, and mental health with IBD, such as anxiety and depression.
Often with a diagnosis of Crohn’s or colitis, the bowels aren’t the only part of the body to ache or have pains. As they are both autoimmune diseases, any part of the body can be affected, on the outside as well as within.
Skin issues can arise with IBD and these diseases. Patients may suffer erythema nodosum, where they can get painful spots below the knees and on the shins. Or, they can develop hidradenitis suppurativa, a painful acne-like boil that lumps under the skin. Sometimes they require draining and often are found in the armpit and groin area. Hidradenitis suppurativa also is considered a chronic inflammatory disease, much like Crohn’s disease.
Patients also may suffer abscesses, ulcers, psoriasis, rashes, cancers, and other skin problems that can be side effects of the medications used to treat IBD.
With skin problems on the outside, the joints and muscles hurt within. Joint inflammation leads to swelling, and even arthritis or arthralgia. Patients suffer hand, elbow, hip and back pains, along with stomach pain and rectal pain. Pain can happen anywhere, extra-intestinal symptoms, indeed.
As well as experiencing overall body pains, and tenderness to the touch (allodynia), I have taken steroid shots in both of my hands. I will require more of these shots in the future.
I also happen to suffer on the inside with anxiety, depression and mental health. My diagnosis somewhat placed me in a negative state for a while. I was depressed about things I could not change.
I am on constant alert with fear and anxiety for my bowels and my body. I am scared for accidents, anxious for finding the right medications, forever worrying about another abscess or painful surgery. My emotional well-being has been through as much as my physical ills with Crohn’s diagnosis, let alone how traumatized one can get in the process.
Almost like a domino effect, one symptom or problem can lead to another, and then lead to a reaction from something else. Sometimes, patients have to add medications that are creating more problems within, and so forth. The list of “what-if” symptoms you could face is endless.
With any diagnosis, each person will suffer symptoms individual and unique to them. Some will experience more problems than others, and just because one person has a symptom, does not mean all IBD warriors will suffer from the same ones. There is no cure-all.
There may be many problems your fellow Crohn’s disease and colitis patients face, and this series will discuss a plethora of these awful symptoms that occur “Beyond the Bathroom.” The next installment, Part Four, will examine weight loss and weight gain, related issues like vomiting and loss of appetite, as well as IBD symptoms related to hair, vision and cognition symptoms.
My experiences with Crohn’s may be different than yours, but you never can be too prepared for what could happen with Crohn’s or colitis, because for me, It Could Be Worse.