Is your gut problem a pain in your back?

Aug 6, 2015, 8:00 AM | Updated: Aug 11, 2015, 4:53 pm
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When you are in the mountains or in a canyon, it can be difficult to determine the source of sounds. The nooks and crannies of the geography do strange things to the sound waves. Sometimes a noise from a distant ridge seems close while a nearby sound might be barely audible.

Identifying the cause of chronic pain often presents a similar challenge.

One example is pinpointing the cause of back pain. While back pain usually results from wear and tear or injury, in some cases the culprit can be inflammatory bowel disease.

Research and IBD back pain

Several types of IBD can cause back pain including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and celiac disease.

According to the orthopedic and sports medicine department at the University of Washington, “research suggests that the immune system the body’s natural defense against foreign invaders is somehow altered in people with these conditions. Chronic (long-lasting) inflammation present in the intestines of persons with … IBD damages the bowel.”

One theory is the damaged bowel wall allows bacteria to enter and circulate through the bloodstream. When the sufferer’s body reacts to the bacteria, a variety of problems can appear throughout the body. Joint inflammation, including in the back, is the most common.

In some sufferers, IBD results in a type of arthritis that is similar to rheumatoid arthritis, which is what causes and intensifies the back and joint pain. Unfortunately, some of the typical treatments that alleviate rheumatoid arthritis pain — such as anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen — can increase the inflammation and severity of other symptoms associated with IBD, reports drugs.com.

Controlling the problem

Those who suffer from IBD and back pain should work with a gastroenterologist to help control symptoms. This could include changes in diet and nutrition.

While the IBD and back pain might be linked, they often need to be treated independently. Controlling the back pain can involve a variety of options including

  • Injections directly to inflammation spots
  • Medications
  • Topical treatments
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Massage therapy
  • A light exercise program is also recommended to increase flexibility and reduce IBD-related back pain. Exercise assists the body in fighting inflammation by stimulating immune response and by increasing growth hormones that help the body heal.

How to get help

For those who may be suffering from back pain resulting from IBD, control of the pain and other symptoms is likely to take a concerted effort between the patient and multiple medical professionals. When searching for a physician, make sure and find a doctor versed in the connection between IBD and back pain. Understand that relief will likely not be simple, but it is possible to find a solution that can greatly minimize the discomfort of both conditions.

 

About the Author

Dr. Alex Bigham

Dr. Alex Bigham is the owner and CEO of Novocur Pain Management Clinics and has over 18 years of health care experience in private practice and Ambulatory Surgical Center settings. Novocur offers advanced treatment options in a concierge type practice without the concierge price tag. Dr. Bigham appears frequently on local TV and radio programs to discuss the latest in Pain Management or related health topics.

See Dr. Bigham’s other article on managing pain. 

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Is your gut problem a pain in your back?