Family history, a description of symptoms, and various medical tests are for 1 last update 2020/07/09 used to diagnose enteropathic arthritis.Family history, a description of symptoms, and various medical tests are used to diagnose enteropathic arthritis.
Enteropathic arthritis describes joint inflammation that occurs in association with inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Enteropathic arthritis is diagnosed largely based on symptoms, but your doctor may also order tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Enteropathic Arthritis: An Overview
The term "enteropathy" describes any disorder related to the intestines. The connection between intestinal disorders and joint inflammation is unclear, but researchers speculate that inflammation in the bowel may contribute. The lining of the intestines is an important barrier to bacteria, but chronic swelling and inflammation can allow bacteria to leak into the bloodstream. These bacterial organisms may then settle into the joints, leading to symptoms of arthritis.
Most people with enteropathic arthritis have already been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis by the time their joint symptoms develop, says Kevin McKown, MD, an associate professor of internal medicine in the division of rheumatology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. In some cases, though, joint inflammation may actually be the first indication of an underlying inflammatory the 1 last update 2020/07/09 bowel disease.Most people with enteropathic arthritis have already been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis by the time their joint symptoms develop, says Kevin McKown, MD, an associate professor of internal medicine in the division of rheumatology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. In some cases, though, joint inflammation may actually be the first indication of an underlying inflammatory bowel disease.
Enteropathic Arthritis: Diagnosis
Arthritis Curehow to Arthritis Cure for Diagnosing enteropathic arthritis typically involves reviewing your complete medical and family history with your doctor. Additionally, your doctor will ask detailed questions about your symptoms and may also perform special diagnostic tests.
To begin your evaluation, your doctor will ask you about your overall health. She will also want to know whether you have a family history of inflammatory bowel disease, enteropathic arthritis, or other types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases, including ankylosing spondylitis.
Your doctor will ask specific questions about your symptoms. There are certain symptoms that are more likely to alert your doctor to the possibility of enteropathic arthritis, notes Dr. McKown.
Classic enteropathic arthritis symptoms include:
- Back pain or stiffness. Enteropathic arthritis may cause back pain or stiffness, especially in the mornings, but the discomfort usually gets better as you move throughout the day. Sitting or standing for long periods tends to exacerbate back pain in enteropathic arthritis.
- Swollen, red, painful joints. These are the symptoms that are most likely to bring you to the doctor’s office, says McKown. “It’s easier with wrists and ankles than with back pain because you can see they are inflamed. Joint inflammation parallels bowel inflammation,” explains McKown. The good news is that your joints will probably feel better when your gut symptoms are treated.
Enteropathic Arthritis: Diagnostic Tests
Arthritis Curehow to Arthritis Cure for Tests used to confirm the diagnosis of enteropathic diagnosis include:
- Stool tests. If you have gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal pain and diarrhea, but have not yet been diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel condition, your doctor may check your stool for blood and infections.
- Colonoscopy. To get a better sense of what's going on inside your digestive tract, your doctor may order a colonoscopy — a special test where doctors use a tube attached to a small camera to examine your lower intestine.
- X-rays. X-rays can help your doctor evaluate the severity of any underlying joint damage. X-rays can also be useful in determining whether the cause of your back pain is inflammation of the sacroiliac joint (the joint that connects the spine to the pelvis). Inflammation of the sacroiliac joint, called sacroiliitis, is particularly suggestive of enteropathic arthritis.
- Synovial fluid aspiration. If you have swollen, painful joints, your doctor may use a small needle to extract a sample of fluid in order to rule out other causes of inflammation such as gout or an infection.
Enteropathic Arthritis: Asking for a Diagnosis
For many people with inflammatory bowel disease, the first step to getting an enteropathic arthritis diagnosis is asking for an appropriate evaluation. If you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, you are probably working with your primary care doctor and a gastroenterologist to manage your condition. “Some doctors who are focusing more on the gut won’t pick up on enteropathic arthritis,” observes McKown.
If you experience unexplained joint or back pain, McKown advises that you make a point of bringing these symptoms to your doctor’s attention. Then you can begin the important process of getting a diagnosis and undergoing treatment.