King's College London

Research portal

Systematic review: interventions for abdominal pain management in inflammatory bowel disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-125
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Issue number2
Early online date4 May 2017
Accepted/In press30 Mar 2017
E-pub ahead of print4 May 2017
PublishedJul 2017


King's Authors


BACKGROUND: Abdominal pain is frequently reported by people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including in remission. Pain is an under-treated symptom.

AIM: To systematically review evidence on interventions (excluding disease-modifying interventions) for abdominal pain management in IBD.

METHODS: Databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycInfo, CINAHL, Scopus, Cochrane Library) were searched (February 2016). Two researchers independently screened references and extracted data.

RESULTS: Fifteen papers were included: 13 intervention studies and two cross-sectional surveys. A variety of psychological, dietary and pharmacological interventions were reported. Four of six studies reported pain reduction with psychological intervention including individualised and group-based relaxation, disease anxiety-related Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and stress management. Both psychologist-led and self-directed stress management in inactive Crohn's disease reduced pain compared with controls (symptom frequency reduction index=-26.7, -11.3 and 17.2 at 6-month follow-up, respectively). Two dietary interventions (alcoholic drinks with high sugar content and fermentable carbohydrate with prebiotic properties) had an effect on abdominal pain. Antibiotics (for patients with bacterial overgrowth) and transdermal nicotine patches reduced abdominal pain. Current and past cannabis users report it relieves pain. One controlled trial of cannabis reduced SF-36 and EQ-5D pain scores (1.84 and 0.7, respectively). These results must be treated with caution: data were derived from predominantly small uncontrolled studies of moderate to low quality.

CONCLUSIONS: Few interventions have been tested for IBD abdominal pain. The limited evidence suggests that relaxation and changing cognitions are promising, possibly with individualised dietary changes. There is a need to develop interventions for abdominal pain management in IBD.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454