Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked To Nerve Damage


People with inflammatory bowel disease may also be at risk for developing nerve damage and other neurological problems, according to research to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 59th Annual Meeting in Boston. Inflammatory bowel disease includes digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease that cause swelling and/or bleeding in the intestines. For the study, researchers compared 103 people with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis to 51 people with other digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis and chronic heartburn.

The researchers found that those with inflammatory bowel disease were about four times more likely to develop neuromuscular conditions, including carpal tunnel syndrome and small fiber neuropathy, which causes pain and lack of feeling in the feet. Those with bowel disease were also more than six times more likely to also have a disorder called sensorimotor polyneuropathy, a nerve disease that can cause weakness, pain, and numbness. These diseases were more common in women with bowel disease than men.

“Inflammatory bowel disease patients commonly suffer from several other medical conditions, like B12 deficiency and glucose intolerance. These nerve conditions we have reported are often not diagnosed by their primary care physicians,” said lead study author Francisco De Assis Gondim, MD, MSc, PhD, Professor of the Federal University of Ceará in Ceará, Brazil, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “People with inflammatory bowel disease who develop new symptoms, such as pain or numbness in the feet, should see a doctor.”

The study was supported by grants from the Brazilian Ministry of Health and Federal University of Ceará.

American Academy of Neurology (2007, April 24). Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked To Nerve Damage. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 4, 2010, from­ /releases/2007/04/070423185730.htm

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