Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects any part of the gastrointestinal tract that can cause many painful symptoms. People with Crohn’s can usually manage the symptoms with standard medication, but for others, these symptoms can lead to other health complications, such as intestinal strictures.

Strictures happen when inflammation causes the intestinal walls to narrow, making it hard for digested food to pass through. There are two types of intestinal strictures including inflammatory strictures and fibrotic strictures. Fibrotic strictures occur when scar tissue builds up from inflammation and narrows the intestines, blocking food or stools to pass through. Inflammatory strictures develop when inflammation from Crohn’s disease swells up and narrows the intestinal walls.

Symptoms from strictures depend on severity. Mild strictures can cause symptoms such as discomfort or pain in the abdomen, excess gas or bloating, decreased appetite, or low energy. When intestinal strictures are severe, this can cause symptoms such as intestinal abdominal pain, bloating or swelling of the abdomen, constipation or vomiting.

There are some factors that can increase a person’s risk for developing an intestinal stricture. These factors can include having multiple surgeries on the abdominal area, having Crohn’s disease, receiving steroid treatment during a Crohn’s flare up, having a perianal illness, and smoking.

Read more about Crohn’s disease and intestinal strictures.