The Impact of Pain

The consequences of pain from IBD are dramatic and can affect your quality of life, mental health, and relationships.

Physical functioning and activities

Pain associated with IBD can affect your physical functioning and quality of life. Sometimes this pain can lead to disability that interferes with your activities of daily living and social activities. 

In a study among people with IBD, abdominal pain was present in 61% of people who were in remission and in 75% of those with evidence of inflammation. Of those experiencing pain, the majority of people experienced some type of functional disability. 

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Mental health and wellness

Rates of anxiety and depression are higher in people with IBD compared with the general population. Pain can also contribute to increased feelings of stress. All patients with IBD should have mental health assessments done, and treatment provided as needed.

People with IBD may also have an increased risk of suicide or throughts about suicide. If you are feeling suicidal, please contact your healthcare provider immediately and Crisis Services Canada for support.


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Social relationships and engagement

Chronic pain can affect your social and family relationships. People in pain tend to have less contact with their family or significant others.

In addition, the negative emotions, irritability, and feelings of anger you might feel when you are in pain can have a negative impact on your relationships. They can increase stress in the family.

Pain can affect your ability to participate in social activities and events. About half of individuals in pain say their pain prevents them from attending social or family events. About half of people in pain see their family less often. You might find it difficult to plan social activities in advance due to the unpredictable nature of your pain.

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Work and employment

People who experience chronic pain are more likely to take sick leave from work. They are also more likely to quit or lose their job. People who take longer periods of time off due to pain are less likely to recover from pain. If they do not take time off work, they tend to have reduced productivity at work.

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School activities

Children and teenagers with chronic pain, including those with IBD, often struggle to attend school regularly. Almost half of the students in pain have a decline in their grades. Most children and teenagers with chronic pain miss at least one half to two days per week. Some teenagers complete their studies in a correspondence program.

Also, teens with chronic pain feel they are less socially developed than their peers. They may avoid social situations, which can lead to further issues with school.

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