Crohn’s, Colitis, and Arthritis: a First-of-its-Kind Study

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the connection of Crohn’s and colitis to arthritis – and patient journeys through the system.

As many as half of all adults with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis experience joint pain tied to their disease, a figure believed to be even higher in children. These musculoskeletal problems risk unfolding into chronic, life long joint disease – causing further physical and mental health challenges for Canadians already dealing with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Dr. Eileen Crowley and Dr. Roberta Berard, two clinical researchers at the London Health Sciences Centre, are conducting the first research of its kind in Canada to evaluate the musculoskeletal manifestations of Crohn’s and colitis – such as inflammatory arthritis – in people of all ages.

We wanted to gain insight into not only the prevalence of inflammatory arthritis in children and adults with Crohn’s or colitis, but also understand what pain management, health and mental health services they seek, Identifying these journeys and outcomes will allow us to intervene to improve the care of this subgroup of patients.”

- Dr. Crowley

This “population study” targets two decades of data from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), which captures how Ontarians interact with the health system. Crohn’s and ColitisCanada funding has been instrumental in providing resources to conduct this extensive research. In it, Dr. Crowley’s team, including gastroenterology and rheumatology experts as well as ICES analytics staff, will assess the broader impact of inflammatory arthritis – including what happens to children with Crohn’s or colitis many years down the road.

Researchers will share results with the wider community of clinicians, researchers and patients in order to motivate health-care researchers and institutions to evaluate how we can provide optimal care for as many people as possible experiencing the connected problems of IBD and joint disease.

“The more understanding we have of the burden of inflammatory arthritis on the Crohn’s and colitis community, the better we will be able to inform and formulate policies to support early access to specialist care and optimize long-term outcomes,” says Dr. Crowley.

“We want to empower the community to help advance treatments, advocate to governments on behalf of those affected with chronic diseases, and improve patient quality of life and patient services for this understudied group of Canadians.”

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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