Enteropathic arthritis (or enteropathic arthropathy) is a type of arthritis associated with inflammatory bowel disease. The condition causes joint inflammation and tenderness in the arms, legs and sometimes spine. It also involves digestive problems. Certain medications and lifestyle changes can help reduce symptoms and prevent joint damage.
Enteropathic arthritis (EnA) is a type of arthritis that occurs with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The condition is also called enteropathic arthropathy.
Arthritis is a chronic condition involving swelling and pain in the joints. IBD is chronic inflammation of all or part of your digestive tract. If you have EnA, you have both chronic swelling in your joints and inflammation in part of your digestive tract.
EnA is one type of spondyloarthropathy, a long-term (chronic) disease of the joints.
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It also may be associated with other conditions that affect the small intestine:
Scientists are unsure what causes enteropathic arthritis. They suspect it’s related to a protein called HLA-B27 on the outside of white blood cells. The protein can cause your immune system to attack healthy cells in your joints.
EnA affects the gastrointestinal (GI) system and the joints.
Enteropathic arthritis symptoms involving the GI system include:
Arthritis symptoms usually affect your arms and legs but sometimes include your spine. The signs include:
A person may experience GI symptoms first, then joint symptoms, or vice versa. Or both types of symptoms may flare up at the same time.
Enteropathic arthritis diagnosis requires:
There is no specific enteropathic arthritis test, but your healthcare provider may order certain procedures to confirm that IBD and inflammatory arthritis are both present. Or tests may identify another cause of your symptoms. These tests may include:
Enteropathic arthritis treatment aims to relieve symptoms in the digestive tract and the joints. It also can prevent further joint damage.
Strategies to treat the joints include:
Strategies to relieve or prevent digestive symptoms include medications and lifestyle changes, particularly to your diet.
Because scientists don’t fully understand the causes of enteropathic arthropathy, there are no proven strategies to prevent it.
The outlook with EnA varies widely. The symptoms can be constant, or they may come and go. Flare-ups can range from bothersome to debilitating.
But most people with enteropathic arthritis lead productive lives and have a normal lifespan.
Although EnA can affect your daily life, certain strategies can help you feel better and be more productive:
Certain dietary changes may help you feel and function better. Consume more:
Also, try tracking what you eat and seeing whether certain things cause flare-ups. Some things that tend to irritate IBS are:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Enteropathic arthritis is a type of arthritis associated with inflammatory bowel disease. Symptoms affect both the joints and the gastrointestinal system. But medications and lifestyle modifications can help you manage pain, inflammation, digestive issues and flare-ups. Talk with your provider about ways to manage symptoms.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/04/2022.
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