Crohn's Disease: Problems Outside the Digestive Tract
Sometimes symptoms of
Crohn's disease can develop outside the digestive
tract in other parts of the body (systemic symptoms), including the eyes,
liver, blood, and bones. These systemic symptoms suggest that the immune system
is involved in Crohn's disease. Systemic symptoms can include:1
Joint problems, which occur in 5% to 20% of
people who have Crohn's disease. Some people develop colitis-related arthritis,
which may resemble
Eye problems, which
happen in up to 11% of people who have Crohn's disease. These can include ulcers on
the cornea, inflammation of the iris and blood vessels (uveitis), and
inflammation of the white part of the eyes (sclera).
conditions, which happen in about 10% to 20% of people who have Crohn's disease. Examples include mouth
ulcers and pyoderma gangrenosum, which is an eruption of painful, spreading
ulcers that usually occur on the legs. The ulcers may be blue in the center
with red edges. Mouth ulcers are more common than pyoderma gangrenosum, which
is fairly rare.
Disorders of the liver and gallbladder, which
affect 10% to 35% of people who have Crohn's disease. These can include
cirrhosis of the liver, bile duct inflammation and
scarring (sclerosing cholangitis) or, in rare cases, bile duct
Low bone mass. This happens in 3% to 30% of people who have Crohn's
disease. The risk is greater for people who take corticosteroid medicines. It
can lead to
osteoporosis and, later, broken bones. More than half
of people who take steroids for the long term get
Friedman S, Lichtenstein GR (2006). Crohn's disease. In MM Wolfe et al., eds., Therapy of Digestive Disorders, 2nd ed., pp. 785–801. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.