10 Tips for Managing Crohn's Disease-Related Arthritis

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As those of us living with Crohn’s disease know, its symptoms aren’t contained to the gastrointestinal tract. In fact, arthritis is the most common manifestation of Crohn’s disease outside of the gut, and it can be a tricky one to manage. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to help keep those creaky joints at bay.


Draw a bubble bath

There’s nothing like a hot shower or relaxing bubble bath to start or end your day. According to the Arthritis Foundation, warm water therapy “reduces pain and it seems to have a somewhat prolonged effect that goes beyond the period of immersion.” When my arthritis is acting up, I hit the shower in the morning to warm up my joints and relax them for the day ahead.


These sneakers are made for walking...

Who doesn’t love a pair of heels? But let’s be honest, they can be killer on the body — especially when you’re in a flare.

But never fear! You don’t need to lose your flair when you’re in a flare. Sneaker options are endless and can perfectly pair with a fun dress. Just make sure when you’re picking out sneakers, you look for solid support and cushioning. If you absolutely must buy the sleek pair with less support, don’t skimp on insoles.


Hold the sugar

Processed sugars are notorious for sparking inflammation and should be avoided, especially during a flare. If you are craving something sweet, grab a piece of fruit or do some baking with unrefined sugars like maple syrup.

One of my go-to sweet treats are Chocolate Covered Katie’s healthy Mounds bars. Make them in advance and freeze them so you have them on hand.


Skip the high-impact exercise and pull out the yoga mat

High-impact exercise like running and plyometrics can be tough when you are in an arthritis flare and could make matters worse. However, you definitely shouldn’t cut out exercise all together. It is critical to keep your joints loose and moving, especially during a flare. Stick to low-impact exercises like yoga or swimming. Do what makes you feel most comfortable!



Studies have shown that mindfulness-based interventions can help reduce psychological distress and fatigue in patients living with inflammatory rheumatic diseases. Managing stress is important, especially since it is a known trigger of inflammation. Meditation elicits peace and relaxation, both of which are key components to stress reduction.

Not only have studies shown that meditation can help reduce stress and fatigue, but some studies have shown that it’s also effective in helping to reduce chronic pain.


Add fish oil to your diet

There have been a number of studies conducted on fish oil, especially in the rheumatoid arthritis population. Results have shown that adding omega-3 daily supplements had significant clinical benefit and can even reduce the need for some pain medications.

Exploring adding fish oil along with other anti-inflammatory supplements can be beneficial not only for your arthritis, but for other symptoms of Crohn’s disease as well.


Don’t skimp on sleep

Plenty of rest is essential to overall health, but especially for those who are dealing with an arthritis flare. Studies show that poor sleep negatively impacts joint pain.

To ensure that you get a good night’s rest, implement a bedtime routine to get your body prepared for slumber. Avoid using blue-light technology at least 30 minutes before bed and consider adding nightly meditation to quiet your mind and relax your body.


Break out the peppermint

Peppermint essential oil contains something known as menthol, which has anti-inflammatory properties. When applied on the skin it feels cooling and soothing.

You can safely apply peppermint oil (along with a carrier such as coconut oil) directly to aching joints to potentially help manage pain and reduce swelling.


Avoid NSAIDs

Unfortunately, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be a no-no when you’re living with Crohn’s disease. Some researchers say they raise the risk for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s. So instead of popping ibuprofen for your pain, consider using acetaminophen or another type of pain reliever as prescribed by your doctor to help manage pain and inflammation from arthritis.


Talk to your doctor about treatment options

It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about the symptoms you are experiencing. The good news is, many of the medications prescribed for Crohn’s disease also treat the arthritis symptoms that can present with IBD. Take time to ask your doctor if they have specific recommendations for your arthritis pain and inflammation management.