Editor’s note: Columnist Mary Horsley discusses Crohn’s disease, the many doctors seen, and extra-intestinal problems.
How many doctors and other medical professionals do you regularly see? I see many doctors for my many issues. These appointments are for different problems, all rooted in inflammation (like Crohn’s disease and IBD):
- Primary care
- Gastroenterology (GI)
- Rheumatology or musculoskeletal clinic
- Occupational or physical therapy
This doesn’t include the many trips to the infusion lab, blood lab, or X-ray lab that I have, plus the pharmacy and mental health appointments. Most appointments are related to inflammation caused by my Crohn’s.
Crohn’s disease can affect the patient top-to-bottom, from hair to feet, mouth to legs, inside and outside. With a Crohn’s diagnosis, the bowels often aren’t the only part of the body to have inflammation manifestations — the entire body is often involved in the suffering.
As I mentioned in two previous series, Crohn’s Complications and Beyond the Bathroom, there are many problems beyond the restroom. Complications can happen with any form of autoimmune disease through symptoms and increased sickness risk. Crohn’s disease is host to many, many other troubles, including those that are extra-intestinal.
GI and primary care
Crohn’s disease sufferers commonly visit primary care and GI doctors. They fill us in on our overall health and disease progression or remission, plus order medication and lab work.
Some patients complain of skin manifestations. I suffered skin ulcers and sores for years until we realized it was a manifestation of my Crohn’s disease. According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, as many as 20 percent of people with IBD suffer from skin manifestations. I now see a dermatologist to treat my skin problems.
I see neurologists for my migraines and nerve pain. Migraines are thought to be caused by inflammation, and with my Crohn’s disease being a constant event, my migraines are extra severe and frequent. Getting them under wraps requires the Crohn’s disease to be controlled, too.
I see rheumatology and musculoskeletal doctors for allodynia and joint pain. Certain Crohn’s medications are known to create joint stiffness and pain. Crohn’s flaring can also cause joint problems. Some develop problems with bone density, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.
Optometrists treat eye problems. For some IBD sufferers, eye inflammation is a major extra-intestinal manifestation. Uveitis can lead to redness, irritation, and blurred vision. This can also cause eye pain and sensitivity to light. When I start feeling bad, I get irritated eyes and lose eyelashes!
One Crohn’s disease warrior may not have the same symptoms, manifestations, doctor visits or appointments as another IBD warrior. Knowing whom to see for these extra-intestinal symptoms can help you manage and control some aspects of your Crohn’s disease.
The list of “what if” problems for Crohn’s disease is endless. Each person has unique symptoms and some experience more problems than others. But you can never be too prepared for possible problems. With Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, for me, it could be worse.
Do you have any doctors I haven’t mentioned whom you consult?
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 another 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.