Classifying Back Pain and Peripheral Joint Complaints in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients: A Prospective Longitudinal Follow-up Study

J Crohns Colitis. 2016 Feb;10(2):166-75. doi: 10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjv195. Epub 2015 Oct 28.


Background and aims: Peripheral joint complaints [pJTC] and chronic back pain [CBP] are the most common extra-intestinal manifestations in patients with inflammatory bowel disease [IBD]. This prospective study evaluates variables associated with joint/back pain, including IBD disease activity.

Methods: IBD patients with back pain ≥ 3 months and/or peripheral joint pain/swelling [n = 155], and IBD patients without joint complaints [n = 100; controls], were followed for a period of 1 year. Patients were classified as having SpondyloArthritis [SpA] according to several sets of criteria. Statistical analysis included logistic regression models and linear mixed model analysis.

Results: Of the 155 patients with joint/back pain, 13 had chronic back pain, 80 peripheral joint complaints, and 62 axial and peripheral joint complaints. Smoking, female gender, and IBD disease activity were independently associated with IBD joint/back pain. The Assessment in Spondyloarthritis International Society criteria for axial and peripheral SpA were fulfilled in 12.3% of patients, with 9.7% [n = 15] receiving a rheumatological diagnosis of arthritis. During the 12-month follow-up, the majority of the patients reporting joint/back pain remained stable.

Conclusions: In our cohort, the majority of IBD patients reported joint/back pain and SpA was relatively common. To facilitate effective care, gastroenterologists should be aware of the various features of SpA to classify joint complaints and, by making use of an efficient referral algorithm, to refer CBP patients to the rheumatologist.

Keywords: Crohn’s disease; Inflammatory bowel disease; arthropathy; spondyloarthritis; ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Back Pain / diagnosis
  • Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Back Pain / etiology*
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Chronic Pain
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / blood
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / complications*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diagnosis
  • Joint Diseases / diagnosis
  • Joint Diseases / epidemiology
  • Joint Diseases / etiology*
  • Male
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Report
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors


  • C-Reactive Protein