Managing Ulcerative Colitis Pain: How to Find Relief During a Flare-Up
If left unaddressed, the pain associated with ulcerative colitis can make it hard to work, exercise or enjoy daily activities. Managing the disease with medication, stress reduction, and diet can help to reduce pain.
There are different levels of pain that can be caused by inflammatory bowel disease.
UC is caused by chronic inflammation that leads to open sores in the colon, large intestine, and rectum. A higher level of pain can be a sign that the disease is getting worse.
How much inflammation you have in your colon can affect your pain level. Mild to severe abdominal pain may be present. The pain may last a long time or it may go away when the inflammation goes away.
There are periods of long periods of no flare-ups. Your symptoms may disappear completely during the course of the remission.
People with mild UC may experience some symptoms. As the disease progresses, the pain may become more intense as you feel the pressure tighten and release.
Gas pain and bloated body can make the sensation worse.
If you have a type of UC known as left-sided ulcerative colitis, your left side may also feel tender to the touch.
The pain associated with UC can affect your quality of life. If you have chronic, unmanageable pain, you should discuss the treatment options with your doctor.
You can get back into your activities with treatment. A doctor can recommend a combination of therapies to help manage your UC pain.
If you have mild pain, over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be enough to help you feel relief.
“NSAIDs are not recommended for people with ulcerative colitis. OTC drugs can cause flare-ups and make other symptoms worse, so they shouldn’t be used for UC pain.”
Avoid taking medication
- Ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil)
- aspirin is a drug
- Naproxen is a word that means “in close proximity.”
Most UC-related pain is caused by inflammation. Certain medications can help reduce inflammation. A doctor can help you decide which type is right for you based on your pain level and the extent of your colon.
Steroids, such as hydrocortisone and prednisone, can be used to help with inflammation.
Anti-Inflammatory medication that contains mino salicylates. Sometimes these are prescribed for UC pain. There are many different kinds.
- The name mesalamine is derived from Asacol, Lialda, and Canasa.
- Azulfidine is a drug called sulfasalazine.
- Colazal and Giazo are the authors of balsalazide.
- Olsalazine is also known as Dipentum.
Anti-Inflammatory drugs can be taken in a variety of ways. They can be given in a way that is IV. Side effects of anti- inflammatory drugs can be different.
You may need to try more than one anti- inflammatory drug before you find one that works for you. The medication is sold under a number of different brands.
Immunosuppressant drugs may be prescribed alone or in addition to anti-inflammatory medications. They reduce pain by working to stop your immune system from triggering inflammation. There are a number of different types, including:
- Azathioprine is a type of drug.
- The substance is called mercaptopurine.
- The drug cyclosporine is used for the treatment of Sandimmune.
“Short-term use of immunotherapy medications is used in people who don’t respond well to other drugs. They can cause damage to the body’s organs.”
They may cause serious side effects, including a lowered ability to fight off infections and some cancers. There have been deaths and damage to the kidneys from cyclosporine.
Another type of medication is called biologics. The type of biologic is tumor necrosis factor alpha inhibitors.
People with moderate to severe UC can now get anti-TNF alpha medications. They are usually reserved for people who have not had success with other therapies. They help stop pain by killing a immune system molecule. Infliximab is one of the anti-TNF alpha medication.
Integrin receptor antagonists are a type of biologics. Vedolizumab has been approved to treat UC in adults.
Biologics have been linked to serious forms of infection and tuberculosis.
Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors
The drugs block a specific enzyme involved in inflammation. They can be effective in treating moderate-to-severe UC in cases where other therapies are not effective. Tofacitinib and Rinvoq are two of the JAK inhibitors.
“Certain foods can cause additional pain and symptoms, but they won’t cause UC. A food diary can help you identify food sensitivities.”
Common foods that people with UC avoid can be.
- Milk is high in lactose.
- greasy or fried items, beef, and high fat desserts are high in fat.
- frozen dinners and boxed rice are some of the processed foods.
- Whole grains are high in fiber.
- Gas- Producing vegetables include cauliflower and Brussels sprout.
- spicy food
- alcoholic drinks
- Coffee, tea, and cola are some of the more popular beverages.
It may be better to eat a few small meals a day. You should drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This may help your system by decreasing strain on it, producing less gas, and helping it move smoothly.
Once thought to cause UC, stress may be a trigger for UC flare-ups in some people. Managing and reducing stress may help alleviate UC symptoms, such as inflammation, and pain.
A walk in the woods and deep breathing are two stress-management techniques that benefit you the most. Some people with UC may benefit from yoga, meditation, and exercise.
A 2019 review of research found that mindfulness interventions can be effective in relieving stress and depression and improving the quality of life in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, it didn’t lead to significant symptom relief. More research specific to UC is needed.
In extreme cases, surgery may be the best way to eliminate UC. There are two different ways to manage severe UC. It is best to discuss the pros and cons of the options with a doctor.
Proctocolectomy with end ileostomy
Also known as a full proctocolectomy, this surgery requires the removal of the entire colon, rectum, and anus.
A surgeon uses the end of the small intestine to form a stoma, or hole, in the body.
Proctocolectomy with J-pouch formation
The colon and rectum are removed during this surgery.
“A pouch is attached to your anus during surgery. This allows for normal waste elimination to occur, meaning you won’t have to wear an external bag.”
Alternative treatments like acupuncture can help reduce inflammation and pain.
moxibustion may have a positive effect on UC symptoms. Moxibustion is a type of therapy. It uses dried plant materials burned in a tube to warm the skin in the same areas that are targeted by acupuncture.
Pain can be mild to severe depending on the severity of UC symptoms. You may experience a long period of no symptoms after the flare-ups.
These symptoms can make it hard to do your daily activities.
The time of remission can be shortened by the use of medication. Alternative therapies may also help.
If you are experiencing pain due to UC, you should talk to a doctor about your treatment options.