Some people with autoimmune disorders experience digestive symptoms as well as inflammation in various joints. Sergio Schwartzman, MD, is skilled in diagnosing and treating inflammatory bowel disease-associated arthritis, helping many in the Yorkville area of Manhattan, New York City, find relief from both joint issues and digestive distress. Booking a visit with Dr. Schwartzman takes just moments online or over the phone.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the term used to describe two conditions: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both are characterized by inflammation of your intestinal tract.
Researchers believe that these conditions are autoimmune disorders that occur when your body mistakenly attacks the cells within your digestive tract. Among those who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, 7%-20% also develop arthritis.
Enteropathic arthritis is a common form of arthritis among people with inflammatory bowel disease. The most commonly affected joints are the hips, knees, ankles, elbows, and hands.
A less common form of IBD-associated arthritis is symmetrical polyarthritis, a condition similar to rheumatoid arthritis. This can cause inflammation in any joints of the body, but the hands are most often affected.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a progressive inflammatory joint condition that can cause problems in spinal joints. Symptoms don’t always occur at the same time as IBD symptoms.
Researchers are unsure of the exact causes of arthritis linked with inflammatory bowel disease. It appears that some people have a genetic predisposition that increases their risk level.
It’s possible that arthritis develops in people with inflammatory bowel disease due to a disruption in the gut barrier. This would allow bacteria to move from the gut to other areas of the body, causing inflammation and joint pain.
Various studies have found cells normally present only within the gut in the synovial fluid of patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis.
Treating people who suffer from both arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease requires a careful approach. Some drug therapies that can help improve joint health are also known to worsen ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Drug therapy begins with medications known to improve both joint function and gut health. Anti-inflammatory drugs are a good place to begin, but it’s important to avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which can cause flare-ups of inflammatory bowel disease.
Immunosuppressants can also help. These medications work to slow the body’s immune response, which helps reduce inflammation and improve both joint and gut function.
It’s important that your gastroenterologist works closely with Dr. Schwartzman to coordinate your care. Frequent communication between specialists is the best way to craft a treatment plan that improves both inflammatory bowel disease and arthritis.
When you’re ready to learn more, call the office to book a visit or use the online scheduling tool.