If you have an extra-intestinal symptom of microscopic colitis—notably, the joint aches—here is your information about exercise.

Though not a leading symptom of microscopic colitis, joint aches definitely do make the list of symptoms.

My first flare-up was in late April of 2010, and a few weeks later, after a colonoscopy, I was officially diagnosed.

I had joint aches during that first flare-up. I never recorded the duration, though, but I estimate it was a few weeks. The diarrhea and abnormal stools took about two months to completely go away.

Despite the joint aches and diarrhea, I continued doing heavy and intense weightlifting — which I’ve been doing for years. However, I need to be very clear on something.

During this initial flare-up, the joint aches weren’t bad enough to keep me home or inactive.

They were annoying, even very bothersome at times, but didn’t interfere with my productivity.

They felt like PMS, but PMS joint aches usually stop within 24 hours of the first day of flowing.

My joint aches (low back, ankles, wrists, neck) persisted through a menstrual period and beyond. (I’d later get them again after completing menopause—felt like PMS).

When the microscopic colitis joint aches were mild, I’d work out at the gym: heavy, hard, intense. In fact…strength training SUPPRESSES these symptoms!

Cardio is another story.

It may depend on personal preference, but when I had joint aches from microscopic colitis (and PMS for that matter, as they feel exactly the same), I simply could not do cardio.

The “cannot” has to do with will and comfort level, not physiologic interference of the MC.

It’s just that the idea of running, hiking or stepping while experiencing this kind of sensation in my low back, ankles (and often upper legs) is very unappealing — yet at the same time, I psychologically can tolerate the idea of bench pressing, deadlifting, leg pressing and squatting.


Again, it may boil down to personal preference. In fact, I embrace heavy, intense weight workouts, but often perceive cardio as a drudgery, no matter HOW I’m feeling.

If you’re a cardio-oriented person who happens to have joint aches with your microscopic colitis, you may find cardio to be a breeze nevertheless, and even a suppressor of your MC symptoms — while at the same time, find the idea of lifting barbells and dumbbells very unwelcome.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
Top image: ©Lorra Garrickpic colitis joint aches exercise