woman with fire on her lower back looking at signs showing that fire is not good

Lower Right Back Pain During a Crohn's Flare

Of my many Crohn's flares, none have been alike and have brought on my different symptoms and complications. Symptoms have ranged from extreme bloating and fatigue to relentless vomiting and joint pain/fever. I discuss these symptoms and my experiences in this article, "Not Your Typical Crohn’s Flare."

Lower right back pain is another symptom I've experienced

Sounds like a kidney stone or kidney infection, right? Of course, it wasn’t.

My last Crohn's flare in 2014 even puzzled the doctors. I had been experiencing right "flank pain," as they call it when you experience kidney pain for weeks, and assumed I was battling another kidney stone (which I, along with many Crohn’s patients, suffer from) so I ignored it until the pain started wrapping around my side to my lower right quadrant which is where my Crohn's affects my ileum.

Once I started to experience nausea, I made an appointment to see my GI and upon examination, she sent me to the hospital for a CT scan (I can now only do MRIs or colonoscopies as I maxed out my CT scans over the years) which revealed a few alarming issues going on within my body.

The cause of the pain was an abcess

To summarize, I had another abscess– my second in three years – but it was starting to seep into my appendix so each doctor that visited me throughout the night told me another story.

First, I was told that I had appendicitis, then I had a flare, then I had both. Turns out, it was a flare and the abscess was pushing on my ureter which caused the flank pain and it was seeping into my appendix, thus infecting it, causing appendicitis. The end result was surgery 10 weeks later (to give the abscess time to recede) and to go on another medication—Azathioprine.

I was frustrated, confused, and scared. I had been avoiding surgery at all costs over the years and had dealt with several kidney stones in my past, so I was truly hoping that it was just that, as opposed to being the worst-case scenario.

Patients know best when something is wrong in their body

This is just one of many ways a Crohn’s flare can rear its ugly head and it is up to you, as a patient, to be in tune with your body and recognize when something is off. I have sometimes felt like a hypochondriac freaking out at the smallest things.

What if it really is just the flu? What if I just have the stomach bug that will be gone by tomorrow? This last very severe flare even caused me to pause before calling the doctor for fear it was just some kidney pain or dehydration and I would have looked like the Little Boy Who Called Wolf.

But the truth is, when dealing with a chronic illness, we can never be too careful, and it is better to be on the safe side than let things go and end up in dangerous territory. I hope that this article sheds light on the benefit of asking many questions to your providers and when something seems off, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with your doctor. What seems like something small can be life-threatening, so it is not foolish to take your symptoms seriously.

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