There's currently no cure for Crohn's disease, but treatment can control or reduce the symptoms and help stop them coming back.

Medicines are the main treatments, but sometimes surgery may be needed.


Most people with Crohn's disease need to take steroids (such as prednisolone) from time to time.

Steroid medicines:

The charity Crohn's & Colitis UK has more information about steroids

Liquid diet

For children and young adults, a liquid diet (enteral nutrition) can also help reduce symptoms.

This involves having special drinks that contain all the nutrients you need, instead of your usual diet, for a few weeks.

It avoids the risk of slower growth that can happen with steroids.

Enteral nutrition has few side effects, but some people may feel sick or have diarrhoea or constipation while on the diet.

Crohn's & Colitis UK has information about food and Crohn's disease


Sometimes you might also need to take medicines called immunosuppressants to reduce the activity of your immune system.

Common types include azathioprine, mercaptopurine and methotrexate.


Crohn's & Colitis UK has more about azathioprine and mercaptopurine

Biological medicines

If other medicines are not helping, stronger medicines called biological medicines may be needed.

The biological medicines for Crohn's disease are adalimumab, infliximab, vedolizumab and ustekinumab.

Biological medicines:

Crohn's & Colitis UK: adalimumab and Crohn's & Colitis UK: infliximab

If biological medicines have not helped, your doctor might recommend you try the medicine upadacitinib. You take it as a tablet.

Find out more about upadacitinib from Crohn’s and Colitis UK


Your care team may recommend surgery if they think the benefits outweigh the risks or that medicines are unlikely to work.

Surgery can relieve your symptoms and help stop them coming back for a while, although they'll usually return eventually.

The main operation used is called a resection. This involves:

  1. Making small cuts in your tummy (keyhole surgery).
  2. Removing a small inflamed section of bowel.
  3. Stitching the healthy parts of bowel together.

It's usually done under general anaesthetic (while you're asleep).

You may be in hospital for about a week and it might take a few months to fully recover.

Sometimes you may need an ileostomy (where poo comes out into a bag attached to your tummy) for a few months to let your bowel recover before it's stitched back together.

You may need to take medicine after surgery to help prevent symptoms returning.

Crohn's & Colitis UK has more information about surgery for Crohn's disease

Page last reviewed: 22 April 2021
Next review due: 22 April 2024