Skip to Main Content

We have a new app!

Take the Access library with you wherever you go—easy access to books, videos, images, podcasts, personalized features, and more.

Download the Access App here: iOS and Android. Learn more here!


  • Ulcerative colitis


  • 009.1 Colitis, enteritis, and gastroenteritis of presumed infectious origin

  • 556.9 Ulcerative colitis, unspecified

  • Associated physical therapy diagnoses

    • 315.4 Developmental coordination disorder

    • 718.45 Contracture of joint, pelvic region and thigh

    • 719.70 Difficulty in walking involving joint site unspecified

    • 728.2 Muscular wasting and disuse atrophy, not elsewhere classified

    • 728.89 Disorders of muscle, ligament, and fascia

    • 729.9 Other and unspecified disorders of soft tissue

    • 780.7 Malaise and fatigue

    • 781.2 Abnormality of gait

    • 782.3 Edema

    • 786.0 Dyspnea and respiratory abnormalities

    • 786.05 Shortness of breath


  • A09 Infectious gastroenteritis and colitis, unspecified

  • K51.90 Ulcerative colitis, unspecified, without complications


  • As of June, 2014, the APTA Guide to Physical Therapist Practice does not include practice patterns for organ system pathology; therefore, the associated or secondary musculoskeletal, cardiovascular/pulmonary, or potential neuromuscular patterns would be indicated.


A 40-year-old male presents with abdominal discomfort and low back spasms. The back pain was insidious. Special tests were negative for straight leg raise (SLR) and slump tests. Bilateral lower extremity (LE) strength, reflexes, and sensation were within normal limits. Pain was not reproducible. Review of the systems reveals a 2-month history of decreased appetite, a 10 lb unintentional weight loss, and occasional bright red blood in his stools. He denies recent use of antibiotics, recent travel, or exposure to sick people. He does report a history of “some sort of irritable bowel problems” ailing his father and uncle for years. Physical examination is unremarkable except for minimal lower abdominal tenderness to deep palpation. The patient was referred to his primary care physician with a 3-month history of back pain, abdominal bloating, pain, cramping, and diarrhea. The physician did a digital rectal examination revealing hemoccult positive stool, so the patient was referred to a gastroenterologist for further evaluation. Colonoscopy revealed colonic mucosal erythema with occasional areas of bleeding.


Ulcerative colitis. White exudate is present overlying an abnormal colonic mucosa that has lost its typical vascular pattern. (From Hay WM, Levin MJ, Deterding RR, Abzug MJ. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Pediatrics. 21st ed. Copyright © The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.)



  • Inflammation of large intestine and bowel

  • Ulcer formation may cause some constipation

  • Frequent diarrhea associated with bowel urgency and cramping

  • Pathologic features1

  • Involves mainly mucosa

Essentials of Diagnosis

  • Unknown etiology

  • Abdominal pain, tenderness

  • Nausea, vomiting

  • Diarrhea: Watery, may be bloody

  • Bloating

  • Rectal bleeding possible

  • Acute drop in blood pressure may cause decreased blood flow to intestines


Pathologic features of ulcerative colitis. (From Chandrasoma P, Taylor CR. Concise Pathology...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.