Arthritis Home > Enteropathic Arthritis

Enteropathic arthritis occurs in conjunction with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or another inflammatory bowel disease. Often, joints such as the knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists are affected. Symptoms usually last less than six months and generally occur during a flare-up of the bowel disease. Treatment begins with treating the underlying bowel condition. Drugs that may be used to treat other symptoms include corticosteroids, immunosuppressive medicines, and TNF inhibitors.

What Is Enteropathic Arthritis?

Enteropathic arthritis is a form of arthritis (joint inflammation) associated with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) -- the two most common being Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Your healthcare provider may also refer to this condition by another name: seronegative spondyloarthropathy.

Who Gets It?

Up to 20 percent of people with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis will develop enteropathic arthritis. Most of these people will develop arthritis within the knees, hips, ankles, elbows, or wrists. These are known as peripheral joints. About 5 percent will develop the condition in the spine. Males and females are equally likely to develop enteropathic arthritis. It is more common in teenagers and young adults.

What Causes Enteropathic Arthritis?

Arthritis research scientists and doctors do not know the exact cause or causes of enteropathic arthritis. It is possible that genetics plays a role. A genetic factor, human leukocyte antigen (HLA) B27 may increase a person's chances of developing enteropathic arthritis in some situations.
For example, in people with IBD, there is no increased frequency in HLA-B27 for those that develop peripheral arthritis (affecting the knees, hips, hands, ankles, etc). However, up to 75 percent of people with an IBD and enteropathic arthritis of the spine test positive for HLA-B27.
Inheriting the HLA-B27 gene does not necessarily mean a person with IBD will get enteropathic arthritis. Eight percent of healthy people have the HLA-B27 gene.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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