Let me start off by saying that when it comes to Crohn’s disease, no two cases are the same. The disease’s severity may vary on an individual basis, but the pain is always there. We all suffer with it at some point. Pain is basically a signal sent from your brain to an area of your body as a way of alerting you that something is wrong. And Crohn’s disease sends off some big, flashy red flags about your GI system!
Crohn’s disease causes inflammation throughout the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from top to bottom. The degree of active Crohn’s in the digestive system, along with the location that is most diseased, determines where the pain will be. This is why pain is a big factor for everyone living with Crohn’s.
The inflammation causes abdominal tenderness, and it is fairly common for sharp pains and intense cramping to occur. Because this is a disease of the digestive tract, many people experience pain before, during, and after meals. In my case, I tend to have some pains during the day and while eating. But, sometimes after eating, I’ll get hit with some nausea and intense cramping. Not fun!
Don’t worry, there is help!
Medications can help alleviate the symptoms associated with Crohn’s. For example, because of the cramping I experience, my doctor prescribed an intestinal antispasmodic medication called Bentyl (dicyclomine). Although I still have some symptoms, it has helped me quite a bit with cramping. I also have medications to help with sharp pains and nausea.
As if dealing with pain throughout your gut wasn’t enough, there are other areas of your body that can be seriously affected from having Crohn’s (IBD). Such as the eyes (uveitis), skin (erythema nodosum), and joints (enteropathic arthritis). These conditions are called “extra-intestinal” symptoms because they are not related to inflammation inside the intestines, but rather outside of it. The symptoms on the outside can mirror the state of the intestines, because of added inflammation. And complications you can develop from Crohn’s include intestinal obstructions, perforations, and fistulas.
Managing pain can be complicated, but it is possible! It is important to stay on top of your disease. Regularly take your medications as directed, and communicate with your doctor about everything ― even the embarrassing symptoms, because they are important. The doctor can consider all of your symptoms and create a treatment plan to control your disease and help you live your life as normally as possible. The best way to get rid of the pain and symptoms is to gain control of the disease itself.
Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.