Is there a link between lower back pain and irritable bowel syndrome? Researchers have long argued that IBS can be caused by abnormal functioning of the intestinal nerves and muscles. No indication or explanation is given as to why this defect may occur. To the best of my knowledge there is not enough evidence to support this assumption. Further, I have not seen, heard or read about any study specifically implemented for the test of this study. Because of my observations about my own IBS symptoms, I tend to believe and support this hypothesis.
Some of us who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome have tried for many years, without success, to overcome the often debilitating effects of this mysterious disorder. Usually those who suffer have spent a great deal of time and money, only to be tested after being told that nothing has been fixed.
Often after years of diagnostic procedures and expensive studies, patients are told there is nothing wrong with it. Their complaint of symptoms is regarded as hypothetical or more medically placed, psychosomatic. But with a growing number of patients complaining of similar symptoms, the medical community has been forced to accept boredom as something more than hypothetical symptoms of hypochondria, at least in part.
So what can we think of IBS? Is it a condition or a disease and is it itself? Or is IBS a condition that is caused by a symptom of some other physical, neurological or possibly even mental problem that is not yet detected or diagnosed to be related to an IBS condition? I think this is a more plausible conclusion and gives a little insight to my personal belief that IBS is a condition for itself from being a secondary condition.
For years doctors have been proposing the concept of a secondary condition in relation to irritable bowel syndrome. Unfortunately, they have not yet successfully documented any evidence to say with certainty what the root cause of IBS may be. Moreover, I believe that there is not just one cause, but many causes, all with the same secondary symptoms that make up what is known as IBS.
Please do not assume that the IBS condition is not real, or that it is my intention to say that symptomatic psychology is psychological. I know from painful experience that the condition and symptoms of IBS are very real. I can also venture to say that because of the sheer number of reported cases, the medical community was forced to re-evaluate their approach when dealing with patients complaining of symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome. I am going to express my personal conclusions about another possible cause for IBS that can be overlooked by the medical profession.
I would also like to point out that IBS, along with a list of its many symptoms, may be a subsequent progression of symptoms arising from the same cause. I believe that, in my case, this is a very valid belief. I have not yet been able to get any physician to agree with me, at least on taking the position on record.
Before moving on, I think it would be a good idea to review a partial list of symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. IBS can be characterized by a combination of any or all of the following symptoms:
O Abdominal discomfort or pain, usually in the lower abdomen
o Changed bowel habits
o Chronic or recurrent diarrhea, constipation or both. Can be mixed or optional.
O Abdominal fullness
o Feeling of urgent need to empty the bowels
o Feeling of “incomplete” bowel emptying
o Back pain
o Muscle pain
Disruption of the dist
It is increasingly believed that the symptoms of IBS are caused by abnormal functioning of the intestinal nerves and muscles. Increasingly I personally agree with this as a valid and plausible belief in at least one of the causes of irritable bowel syndrome. With some personal observations, I hope to shed light on why I believe this is a possible reason for many IBS sufferers. Unfortunately, I believe as a reason for my particular brand IBS, it definitely does not diagnose all cases of IBS.
I think those of us who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome reduce our symptoms and pain. We are drawn to believe that there is nothing to change in diet and exercise other than common sense, because there is no remedy. Many people who suffer will endure silence for years before seeking medical treatment. Until then, and I include myself in this group, we may have unconsciously developed IBS. Some of the lesser symptoms caused by are subconsciously reduced or even put aside, focusing only on those that cause too much pain and discomfort.
Worst of all, we are less likely to bring symptoms to the attention of a doctor just by assuming that it is just another aspect of our complex disorder. This can be a dangerous scenario for anyone suffering from IBS. We can constantly ignore symptoms that have gotten more intense or new symptoms that just seem relevant because we get frustrated when we are told that nothing can be done.
Doing these kinds of things can lead to serious life-threatening symptoms. Symptoms of the condition can be treated if caught in time. Things like bowel cancer, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer or many other things can be missed, because after many trips to the doctor we want to ignore our IBS symptoms.
My IBS story begins 20 years ago when I was 26 years young. While helping to lift the very cast iron wood burning stove from the back of the pickup truck, the other person lost his grip and the load shifted all the way down the hill. I felt my way to the back as my foot broke on the ground. I knew I was seriously injured. I couldn’t get myself out of the front position with degree 0 degree where I was. I literally had to pull to the side of the lift using my hands and arms.
26 And stubborn and thinking I was invincible, my wife helped me at home and in bed, not going to the emergency room. I had some leftovers on the pain killers that made the pain enough to allow me to sleep. When I woke up in the morning I was horrified because I couldn’t feel my legs. They were both cold and numb to the touch. I can move them, I just can’t feel them. After about 30 minutes of movement the feeling started to return to my feet and at that point I knew it was time to go to the doctor.
It was not pleasant to hear what the doctor said after the examination and X-ray. He told me I had two options. One had to go to a surgical specialist and have fusion surgery on many of my lower extremity vertebrae because the discs between them were severely compressed. “Having this type of surgery will reduce my physical mobility by 30% or more,” he said. At best, he explained, the surgery was about 40% effective.
My second option, he told me, was time … try to keep my body healthy because of time. He explained that I would never be as good as I was before the accident, but over time my body should partially heal it. He told me that the inflammation that caused the pain and the partial paralysis should be reduced. Permanently losing 30% or more mobility at age 26 was an incredible option. At least the second option gives a little hope of recovery. He gave me muscle relaxant and pain pills and that was it.
I have faith in this doctor … we were good friends. We had a good personal and professional relationship. I took it at his word. According to today’s medical standards, their medical advice may not be watered down, but 20 years ago, it was a very good understanding of my problem.
For the next 6 months, I would wake up with cold, numb legs and every day, but as he said, the symptoms gradually got better. I was focused on repairing my back injury; I didn’t notice the other trivia that had become boring.
The first and most common symptom was a change in my bowel habits. Not a big change, but it seemed that instead of the daily movement, it was now once every other day, and had to try a little harder. But with the previous issue, it seemed smaller in comparison and for many years it seemed the only feature. My back continued to get better but my bowels never returned to normal.
I’ve always been a big guy, at the age of 26 in 1986: I weigh about 220 pounds, which is 6 feet tall. Gradually I began to gain weight. I attribute the decrease in physical activity to the first year of my initial weight gain or two years of my back problem. By the end of the second year, my physical ability and activity had become almost normal. I learned to cope with pain and my legs are no longer numb. I was able to work fairly well. Only a few times did my back pain get so bad that I was unable to work in my “new” normal fashion and usually only lasted a day or two. I have now added 70 pounds to my weight without any real explanation.
Only in the last few years (more than 20 years have passed since my back injury) have I begun to consider the original injury to be related to my bowel and stomach problems. Because I believe there is something I can do to improve the situation, I have done well to manage the pain mentally. I did this well until my back pain got worse to that point, my legs started numb again. It’s not that this happened all the time, it only happened occasionally, but it’s gotten worse as a result of this pain.
Only now when it is impossible to ignore back pain have I realized the cycle of events that have taken place. Now when I see that my legs seem to be numb more frequently, I have also noticed an increase in my IBS symptoms. More frequent and painful eating symptoms begin with chronic constipation, lasting several days. This is followed by gas, fatigue, headaches, bloating, acid indigestion, heartburn and finally explosive diarrhea. Along with other symptoms, all are now knitted in cycles, I now believe that my original back injury is directly related to certain types of nerve injuries.
I then went to a neurosurgeon and was diagnosed with severe disc compression and degeneration in the lower lumbar region and spinal stenosis. Treatment is yet to be mapped out, but I now have at least one doctor who agrees that many, if not all of my symptoms, can be directly linked to nerve dysfunction as a result of my current spinal condition.
If you have a back injury, or have IBS in back pain, it may be wise to study the spine to find out if a back problem may be the cause of your IBS symptoms. It remains for practical reasons that if there is an injury to the spine or lower back from which the nerves controlling the lower bowl function stem, there may also be intestinal distress. With intestinal distress, the progression of symptoms in a logical order would be a very plausible scenario just above the top line of the digestive tract.
If you have IBS and back pain, you have nothing to really lose and nothing to gain by examining your spine. At the very least you may find that there is no problem with your spine so there will be one more source removed.