Pain Management for Crohn’s Disease


Crohn’s Disease is essentially a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines which causes ulcerations in the small and large intestines. Named after the physician who identified the disease in 1932, Crohn’s is more common among relatives of existing patients, indicating that there is a strong genetic factor involved.

The symptoms of Crohn’s Disease include diarrhea, anal problems and nausea. However, the most common symptom of Crohn’s is the pain involved, whether from the tenderness of appendicitis-like pain, or the cramping related to diarrhea or bowl obstruction.

There are a number of things that could help Crohn’s Disease sufferers manage the pain associated with the problem.

We take a look at a number of common pain management methods:

Medication: As Crohn’s Disease involves periods of inactivity (remission), followed by periods of active disease, medication is prescribed to treat the symptoms if and when necessary. When the disease is an active period, medication is used to bring it into remission, including the use of antibiotics, salicylate preparations and cortisteroids. Narcotic pain relievers are helpful, but are only used over a short term period as they can become addictive. Some painkillers may actually increase the symptoms causing pain and should thus be avoided.

Surgery: Patients, who have persistent bowel obstruction causing pain due to advanced disease, may need to undergo surgery to relieve the problem.

Diet: One of the most common ways of dealing with the pain resulting from Crohn’s Disease and other stomach issues, is through a radical change in diet. 

  • Fiber: Fiber can exacerbate symptoms of partial bowel obstruction that are so common in Crohn’s Disease sufferers. Patients, especially those suffering from small bowel disease, may be recommended to try a diet that is low in fiber.
  • Starch and Sugar: While there is no surefire way to prove that sugar and starchy foods affect the symptoms, most Crohn’s Disease sufferers note that when these are cut out of their diet, or at least reduced, the pain is less acute.
  • Stimulants: Food and beverages that contain caffeine and alcohol, as well as nicotine, should be avoided as they could stimulate the bowel and aggravate existing symptoms.

Cold Packs/Heating Pads: These are considered highly effective ways of controlling and relieving pain among Crohn’s Disease patients. Cold packs and heating pads provide near instant relief and can help with sore muscles, cramps and other symptoms.

Alternative Therapies: As Crohn’s Disease is a chronic condition that has no known cure as of yet, patients are always encouraged to seek out individual pain relief methods that work for them. These could include aromatherapy, massage, hypnotherapy, yoga and other gentle exercise that can soothe and stretch the muscles.

Pain management for Crohn’s Disease or any other stomach issue is an important part of the prognosis and as many avenues as possible should be explored to ensure that patients are obtaining the best quality of life possible. 

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