Back Pain and Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Last updated: March 2023
Before I get into the topic at hand, I just wanted to take this time to let you know how much we really value your comments, thoughts, stories, suggestions, and topic ideas that you all share with our team. It helps us understand what YOU want to read more about.
In addition, by opening up to us, you are also speaking for those who don't feel comfortable reaching out yet. We have a lot of community members who simply read through articles, look at all of the comments on Facebook, and browse our website. So, every time you comment or share something about your journey, you can be sure at least five other people are experiencing the same thing and are so thankful you had the courage to bring it up.
Lower back pain with ulcerative colitis
Lower back pain and its relationship to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been talked about fairly often in our community. While there is no one reason for experiencing lower back pain (or back pain in general), you are not alone if you experience this type of pain along with your Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Before I continue, I want to reiterate that I am not a medical professional and if you are having this type of pain, I do highly suggest you bring it up to your doctor. There is often a reason for this pain that may require medical attention so I don't suggest waiting, if possible.
Is this normal with UC?
Having said that, lower back pain is common among IBD patients so believe me, you are not abnormal. Your GI has likely had many patients with this symptom.
You will do whatever necessary to figure out the root cause (if there is one) and you will be okay. I am not trying to mitigate the pain, frustration, confusion, and mental angst that goes along with this unspecified symptom. I just want you to know you are not alone.
I know so many of us feel as though our bodies are so complex that no one understands us. I feel that way so often and it is scary. Really scary. I get it.
My experience with severe back pain
In 2008, I had such severe back pain I couldn't walk. I tried to go to school but needed my dad and male friends to literally carry me into class. It came on suddenly and was just so random to me.
I went to a ton of doctors, went through a lot of tests, physical therapy, acupuncture, etc. Nothing showed up and nothing helped. At my last appointment with an orthopedist, the doctor told me he had been thinking about my case for a while in between the tests and visits to other specialists. He even brought in colleagues to try and help him figure things out.
The conclusion was that there was nothing structurally wrong with my back. He believed the intense pain I was experiencing was from all of my abdominal surgeries. He thought my stomach muscles were so weak that it forced my back to pick up the slack, so to speak.
While this made sense, I had no idea what to expect for the future. Was this just how it was now? Did I just have to accept I would be this way forever?
How was it treated?
Thankfully, my doctor prescribed me Vicodin to help with the pain and things became a little easier for me. I was able to be more independent and resume more of my normal activities. Eventually, the pain just went away. Literally. For no reason at all.
A few years ago (roughly 8 years following that ordeal), it started again. Not as severe because thankfully, I can walk. The pain is very on and off, with no real rhyme or reason at all.
To this date, I still don't know the root cause of this particular pain, and believe me I have tried to figure it out. And, I will keep trying.
Off the top of my head, here are five reasons why you may be experiencing lower back pain as an IBD patient:
- Abscess or infection in the pelvis
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Multiple abdominal surgeries
- Bone density issues from steroid use and/or nutritional deficiencies
It is important to note that there are MANY other potential reasons for this symptom. Please ask your doctor if you feel something is off with your body.
Does this story resonate with you at all? Do you experience lower back pain or back pain in general? Did it just begin following your IBD diagnosis? Do you think it is related? Has the pain been severe enough that you have needed to seek medical attention? If so, did anything come of it? We would love to hear your experiences, thoughts, and stories in the comment section below!
What has been the most helpful for managing IBD symptoms?