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Hypochondria or early signs of arthritis?

I haven't really posted about this because I keep telling myself that it is nothing and I'm reading too much into it. However, recently I have had more issues on a regular basis that have got me wondering if I am heading towards arthritis or something else, and of course if it is all Crohn's related.

I have had lower back pain and hip pain from sitting too long or laying in an odd position for years. Mostly I have chalked it up to being out of shape. When I am on the heavy side my knees also bother me. I can't run a lot for exercise because I get runners knee super fast. I know I need to exercise more, but sometimes I wonder if my issues are more than just being flabby.

Recently I have had the following issues regularly...once a week or more:

1) very sore lower back when sitting in any position for too long

2) knees start to hurt when bent for more than 20 or so minutes...they are then stiff and its hard to straighten my legs so I move a lot when sitting

3) pain in the bones in the tops of my feet...I do walk around all day at work, but have for years and this just started happening. I can't wear some styles of shoes because if they press on those bones it hurts. Recently my toes have periodically started hurting when walking...almost feeling like I broke some of them. Weird.

4) ankle stiffness and cracking sounds

5) pain in shoulders when I sleep on my side...I use to always sleep on my side, but now sleep on my back. When I sleep on my stomach it gives me terrible neck pain.

6) get tingling in my feet, toes, shoulders seemingly easier than normal. Like they want to fall asleep super easy...often happens with the joint pain and stiffness.

7) if I am writing for any length of time past a quick note I get terrible stiffness and cramping in my hands and will have to take a break.

8) tightness and pain in my jaw. I have gotten complete lock jaw type tightness where I can barely open my jaw, but not recently...it's rare to get that bad.

I have also seemed to get injured with minor things lately. Yesterday I pushed a cart (not anything different than i do all the time) and now my right knee hurts.

I got tennis elbow a couple of months back, which will seem healed and then all of a sudden start hurting again. This pain was so bad at the time of injury that I wouldn't be able to grasp with the hand on that arm.

I have had in the past, but not so much recently, issues with restless leg syndrome.

I am just unsure if I should mention it to my regular dr or my GI or if I should not worry. I am taking glucosamine which seems to help a bit. So hard with this disease because I always think everything is related to it.

One more thing...if I have any tummy/bowel discomfort I get really, really bad lower back pain. So bad that I have to lay down, pain is too much when sitting...it goes away when I feel better. Got this most recently when doing the colonoscopy prep.

Let me know what you guys think. If anyone can tell me how I would know if it is arthritis for sure that would be great. When should I tell the dr or even which Dr.? Any suggestions for supplements are appreciated as well.

Can't really advise, but I've had all of those symptoms. I also thought it was down to me being generally unfit, but I realise now it's probably all Crohns.

I'd think your lower back pain with bowel discomfort is more likely radiated pain from your bowel.


Crohns arthritis is not uncommon nor is osteoporosis. I think you should take it seriously, especially given that it gets worse as your flare gets worse. I wouldn't get overly worried but you should have a bone density scan which takes 10 min.

Lady Organic

Staff member
Hi Teeny5,

I can relate to several of your symptoms. It took a while in my case to understand I had arthritis, because I didnt have typical swelling of my joints. I had some swelling but it was very minimal, I could see it (on my hands only), my GP could see it, but not the rheumy I first met :ybatty: the arthritis started right after reaching remission of CD flare and weaning off prednisone.
I have stiffness with inactivity (sleep mostly) and pain if I ''overwork'' a joint. In the first year, I'd wake up in the morning with the incapacity to bend my fingers. I was panicking and not accepting this at all for my young age. but I am glad this symptom has greatly improved since it all started 3 years ago.
Still I am limited in my activities and must always find ergonomic positions in order to avoid pain. I can no longer sit in the grass with my legs crossed for instance and when i wake up from such a sitting position, i risk getting pain in my ankles or knee for a good 24 h after.

mention these issues to your GI or GP and they shall refer you to a rhuematologist for evaluation. my case is mild so x-ray and ultrasound were useless. A bone scintigraphy scan gave the diagnosis.
Do you see some swelling, redness around your joints? this is typical of arthritis. Stiffness after inactivity is also typical.
joint pain in IBD can be arthritis (inflammation of the joints) or arthralgia (pain in the joints without inflammation). I think I have both since my symptoms differ for different joints.

what medication are you on? any new medication added recently?
Lady_Organic I am on Colazal and Prilosec, been on them for 2+ years. I have seen swelling only occasionally, no redness. Mostly get stiffness. I see my Dr next month so I will bring it up then. I keep thinking that I can't have arthritis and I am just being paranoid. Sometimes I am fine but then like last night I was sitting for awhile and my knees kept bothering me. I haven't been doing anything strenuous or a ton of walking this whole week, but still my knees kept hurting and feeling a bit (but not too) stiff.
I've had ALL the symptoms you describe, Teeny5 (the toe thing is a killer, right?), and I lived with them for many years until I got a new GI who sent me to a rheumatologist. I was very quickly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and, in one knee, osteoarthritis. After conferring with my GI, the rheumatologist got me on remicade, which helps (and REALLY helps my intestinal symptoms with Crohns), prescribed Tramadol for pain, and also sent me to physical therapy. That all helped GREATLY. I do my PT exercises religiously. The one time I took a week off, I noticed.

About nine months ago, I started having lots of pain in my ankles, and was having a harder and harder time walking, especially going downstairs. Stupid me, I waited until my next regular appointment with the rheumatologist and just put up with the pain through the winter and spring. As soon as I described what was going on and after he examined me, the doctor diagnosed ankylosing spondilytis (which can affect your hips, back or ankles). He put me on 40 mg of prednisone, and the pain went away within one day. I felt like I was forty years younger. I've just tapered off the prednisone and, sad to say, the ankle pain seems to be returning. This time I won't wait so long to get help.

Anyway, all this is to say: you're not imagining it. This kind of pain goes with the territory when you have Crohn's, and you can be treated for it. You probably won't know how bad you have been feeling until you feel better. Mention this to your GI. As someone treating Crohn's he or she is familiar with all the extra-intestinal manifestations. Ask for a referral to a rheumatologist. And DON'T WAIT! You don't have to suffer until your next appointment.

Good luck, Teeny5, and I hope you feel better soon!
Thank you kiltubrid. I totally get what you are saying about not knowing how bad it is until you feel better. Makes me think of when I got glasses in 4th grade. I had no idea how blind I was! Who knew you could actually see individual leaves on trees, lol.

Lady Organic

Staff member
here is a interesting descriptive article I used to understand my situation. It doesnt discuss axial (back n neck) pain though, only peripheral arthritis in IBD.


I have tried sulfasalazine (not long enough) and methotrexate for the arthritis without much improvement. worse, switching from my previous medication (6-mp) to methotrexate brought me to CD flare. so I am back now on 6-mp and without treatment for arthritis. I have been proposed Biologics, but I am not open to this at this point, so i accept my joint issues and am I am trying natural approaches. have you ever tried sulfasalazine for your crohn's colitis? Im also thinking about your other thread you have started...

take photos of your swollen joints if that is possible to show your doctor.
I was on sulfasalazine for a bit. Don't remember any joint issues at the time. My GI changed it to Colazal when we were going through a bunch of fertility stuff because it is safer I guess. Then I just stayed on it since my symptoms and inflammation are controlled. Maybe I can get it changed back.

Lady Organic

Staff member
sounds like an idea. i wish I could try it again, but I cant unfortunately. my white blood cell count is at the extreme low limit with my current medication and adding sulfa could decrease the number even more.