Do Crohn's Patients Get a Specific Type of Arthritis?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

Is there a specific type of arthritis that is common among Crohn's patients? Specific to the feet, how do you tell the difference between psoriatic and osteoarthritis?

Doctor's response

Patients with Crohn's disease can develop arthritis of two basic types: arthritis of the spine (spondylitis) and arthritis of joints away from the spine (peripheral arthritis). Spondylitis occurs in approximately 20% of patients with Crohn's disease and the symptoms do not tend to coincide temporally with the activity of the bowel disease. Peripheral arthritis also occurs in around 20% of patients with Crohn's disease, and the flare-ups of joint inflammation tend to coincide with the bowel inflammation.

Psoriatic arthritis is a very inflammatory form of arthritis associated with psoriasis. In the toes, psoriatic arthritis classically features reddish, warm, tender, and painful toes that have soft tissue swelling in the shape of a sausage.

Both Crohn's disease and psoriatic arthritis can be associated with inflammation of the tissue under the foot (plantar fasciitis).

Osteoarthritis of the foot features far less inflammation but frequently is associated with bony enlargement (bunions or spurs) in affected joints..

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018