The last few months have been a whirlwind of trying to find suitable pain relief and treatment that works after being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and BAM ( Bile Acid Malabsorption) just before Christmas.
Bowel disorders are quite difficult to diagnose and it’s taken over 2 years and a number of tests including MRI’s, Ultrasounds, Colonoscopies, Sigmoidoscopies and a capsule Endoscopy for me to get a diagnosis.
Although my diagnosis is relatively new, I’m not new to Crohns Disease. My Mam was diagnosed with very severe Crohn’s 36 years ago and has spent huge chunks of her life and my childhood in hospital so it’s been a massive part of our family life for a long time.
There are usually two types of pain associated with Crohn’s Disease –
Visceral pain – This is pain inside your body and it’s hard to locate so can be hard to treat. This often needs to be treated with medication.
Somatic pain – This affects your muscles, joints, and bones. It’s easier to find exactly where the pain comes from and can often be treated with more natural treatments.
I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve found a few ways that help ease my symptoms over the last few years, some I’ve discovered myself, and some I’ve found in Crohn’s support groups.
Make a list of things that make you feel unwell
Not everyone has certain foods that make them feel unwell. I don’t have any particular triggers other than ‘proper’ coffee and alcohol. For me it tends to be the time of day I eat something. I try to avoid things like coffee or anything with a lot of flavour before mid day as they can upset my stomach.
If you feel particularly unwell after eating or drinking, make a note of it. Keeping a food or trigger diary can help when you speak to your consultant or dietician and it’s a great way of remembering what to avoid.
Use head pads
I suffer with pains in various places and swear by heat pads. They help me with pains in my stomach, joint pains and sometimes just help make me feel comfortable. I often feel really cold and there’s nothing better than snuggling up with a hot water bottle or a heat pad.
Exercise and rest
Although Crohn’s can often make you feel very fatigued,some studies show regular exercise may help reduce stress and some of the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease and other IBD’s. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation recommend low-impact or moderate aerobic activity, and say ” a low-impact exercise such as yoga, brisk walking, or swimming gets the body moving while minimizing the risk of injury”. Exercise also releases endorphins which are the “feel good” hormones so can help if you suffer from depression or anxiety. If you do exercise, it’s important you allow your body to rest and recover, especially if you’re in a flare.
Try to reduce stress
I know it’s easier said than done sometimes, but reducing stress can have a massive impact on Crohn’s symptoms. I always feel worse when I am stressed. Talk about issues, write things down and take plenty of time for self care. My symptoms are always worse when I take on too much or I have too many things booked in. Saying ‘no’ more often helps reduce my stress levels.
Do you know anyone who suffers from Crohn’s Disease?