People with Crohn’s disease frequently feel abdominal cramps or rectal discomfort. They’re most likely to experience pain when inflammation in the digestive tract is flaring up.
There’s no cure for Crohn’s disease, so many people continue to experience discomfort even after their initial diagnosis.
Your symptoms may vary, and Crohn’s disease can be painful. That’s why it’s important for people with Crohn’s disease to pay attention to any changes in pain and let their healthcare team know about those issues.
Crohn’s disease is painful because inflammation in the digestive tract can cause symptoms like abdominal cramping, severe diarrhea, and rectal bleeding.
Some people with Crohn’s disease may experience pain from sores in the mouth or anus, while others may feel internal pain from fistulas or even bowel obstructions. In some cases, they may not absorb sufficient nutrients due to the condition, leading to painful health issues because of malnutrition.
Crohn’s disease is also sometimes linked to joint pain, which can flare up alongside the stomach and bowel issues. Joint pain adds additional discomfort and can occur in up to one-third of people with irritable bowel disease (IBD) (Crohn’s is a type of IBD).
Abdominal cramps are often associated with Crohn’s disease. People with Crohn’s disease may also feel a need to go to the bathroom frequently or not feel like they are done going to the bathroom even if they just went. Passing stools may be uncomfortable due to frequent diarrhea, constipation, or sores around the anus.
If Crohn’s disease impacts higher sections of the GI tract like the stomach or upper small intestines, people may experience feelings of fullness, nausea, and even the need to vomit.
About Crohn’s disease
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The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, and getting a diagnosis can involve ruling out many other conditions. It’s important to talk with your doctor if you believe that you may have Crohn’s disease, though, because left untreated, it can lead to other issues that include bowel obstructions, fistulas, or even colon cancer.
You can read more about the potential causes of Crohn’s disease and the process of getting diagnosed here.
Crohn’s disease pain is most often felt in the lower right abdomen. But it can be felt anywhere along the digestive tract, including the mouth or anus.
The exact locations where an individual feels pain will depend on the positioning of inflammation, sores, and any related complications.
The two most common subtypes of Crohn’s disease involve inflammation in the last section of the small intestines or the colon, which explains why Crohn’s is often felt in this part of the abdomen.
The less common variations of Crohn’s disease, gastroduodenal Crohn’s disease and jejunoileitis, can account for cramping pains and discomfort in the upper and middle abdomen. However, it’s rare that pain is limited to the first part of the small intestines or stomach.
The intensity of pain from Crohn’s disease typically varies over time. That means people with Crohn’s disease can expect to go through periods of time where the discomfort is greater or less severe.
People with Crohn’s disease may even experience periods of time where they feel little or no pain. This is sometimes referred to as remission or silent Crohn’s disease.
The period of time that people experience painful symptoms can fluctuate based on a variety of emotional, physical, and environmental factors. Flare-ups may last for a few days or even several months.
It’s important to seek medical assistance to help limit how long flare-ups last.
There’s no cure for Crohn’s disease. But medications, nutritional changes, and even surgery to help reduce symptoms and pain.
Medications can be used to reduce inflammation and treat any related infections that may be causing pain. Antidiarrheal and anti-inflammatory drugs as well as biologics are often prescribed for Crohn’s relief depending on an individual’s age, symptoms, and treatment responses.
Dietary adjustments are another way that your doctor may try to reduce inflammation. If you’re interested in learning more about the best diets for Crohn’s disease, you can read more here.
In some cases, surgery is necessary to remove damaged portions of the colon or address deep infections. Multiple surgeries in one’s lifetime may even be required. In fact, up to 50% of children with Crohn’s disease who undergo one surgery require a second at some point.
Those with Crohn’s disease frequently feel abdominal cramps or rectal discomfort. An individual is most likely to experience pain when inflammation in their digestive tract is flaring up.
Medications, dietary management, and even surgery can help to reduce the pain an individual with Crohn’s disease experiences.
If you have Crohn’s disease and experience changes in your symptoms or the pain you feel, it’s important to reach out to your doctor.