Patients with Crohn’s Disease is a seldom-understood autoimmune disorder.
Crohn’s Disease, also called Crohn’s colitis, ileitis, or regional enteritis, is a form of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It is mostly characterized by ulcerations in the gastrointestinal (G.I.) tract, located anywhere from the throat through the colon (most commonly in the small intestines through the rectum). While Crohn’s Disease is not directly categorized as a neuropathic condition, within 10 years of onset it is common for patients to develop peripheral neuropathy, or other autoimmune/inflammatory-disorder-related damage to joints, bone or tissue. This means nerve damage can become apparent, causing tingling and numbness, difficulty walking, speaking, or swallowing, and sometimes causing severe disabilities or psychological disorders.
Crohn’s induced Migratory Arthritis
Though Crohn’s Disease is medically classified as affecting the G.I. tract, patients suffering from it often experience a host of other problems that are caused by the body’s inflammatory responses over time. It could be a symptom of Crohn’s, or a related to what causes the disease.
|An illustration of the G.I. tract.|
Many Crohn’s patients (usually those experiencing symptoms outside of, or in addition to, the small intestine) develop Migratory Arthritis, which causes the patient’s joints (hips, knees, ankles, wrists, elbows) to become inflamed and painful, seemingly at random, and with no other known stressors. This symptomatic form of arthritis is caused by swelling generated by the body’s T-cells (a form of white blood cell) attacking tissue surrounding the nerves of the joints (in addition to the G.I. tract). Though some patients are prescribed medications to treat these joint pains, the pains are typically lessened or eliminated when the Crohn’s Disease activity recedes (usually by medication and/or altered diets).
Neurological & Psychological Dangers Associated with Crohn’s Disease
Sometimes, Crohn’s may cause Bell’s Palsy, a temporary paralysis in the face, in another link to neuropathic disorders related to the disease. The risk of seizures and tremors is usually increased while symptoms are active. Anyone experiencing seizures or tremors (related to Crohn’s, or otherwise) should immediately inform their physician or neurologist.
Vision may become blurred, “spotty”, or altered, due to Crohn’s inflammatory responses such as uveitis (eye swelling), optic nerve inflammation, or from fluids/proteins being “displaced” or collecting within different areas of the eye. Depending upon the severity, patients experiencing with vision impairment may need additional treatment from an ophthalmologist.
Crohn’s patients may also develop weight loss, eating disorders (such as anorexia) or anemia, due to psychologically or subconsciously vilifying food. These patients may need to seek psychological counseling even after their Crohn’s flare-ups are under control.
Causes & Symptoms
Crohn’s Disease is actually somewhat common, affecting roughly 700,000 Americans today. Its first appearances, symptoms or flare-ups usually occur between the ages of 15 and 35. While the cause of Crohn’s Disease is not fully understood, a family history of the disease will greatly increase the risk of contracting it. Genetic links to the disease include mutations in the hereditary NOD2 gene. Those of Jewish/Eastern European heritage have been studied as being afflicted with Crohn’s more often, and those of African heritage possess a decreased risk.