Pain & fatigue

Pain & fatigue

Statement 7.4

Pain and fatigue are common symptoms for IBD patients and should be investigated and managed using a multidisciplinary approach including pharmacological, non-pharmacological and psychological interventions where appropriate.

Why is it important?

Many people living with IBD experience significant pain and fatigue.

Research shows 86% of people with active IBD report fatigue and, even in remission, 40% say fatigue is their greatest concern1. Fatigue can affect every aspect of a patient’s life, making normal, everyday activities, such as work, exercise or seeing friends feel like a challenge.

In the past, fatigue has not been taken seriously as part of managing long-term chronic conditions. But today, particularly in cancer care, it’s now seen as an important part of a patient’s overall care.

Many IBD patients experience debilitating pain, too. A 2016 study found that 60% suffered from abdominal pain and 38% from back pain2.

Pain can affect people with either active or inactive IBD. For around half, pain is an ongoing problem2.

Resources and further information

Crohn's & Colitis UK information sheet: Fatigue and IBD

The fatigue checklist - developed to help patients and clinicians understand the impact of fatigue and work out the best level of care

Pain Collaborative Research Network – set up by Crohn’s & Colitis UK to help promote research into the causes and management of pain in IBD

There needs to be more awareness of the fatigue side as nobody gets it. It's exhausting trying to pretend to be okay all the time when really I'm struggling to stay awake and even just be on my feet.

Respondent to IBD Standards survey

1 Crohn’s & Colitis UK (2014) Tackling Challenges in IBD Fatigue Report 2014.

2 Zeitz J, et al. (2016) Pain in IBD Patients: Very Frequent and Frequently Insufficiently Taken into Account. PLoS ONE 11(6): e0156666. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0156666