Link Between Lower Back Pain and Bowel Problems
When we talk about bowel disorders, we are referring to conditions that affect your small intestines. Bowel disorders can also affect other parts of your digestive system, like your large intestine. Bowel problems are usually caused by smoking, diet, microbial and immunologic factors, and a family history of Crohn’s disease.
The most familiar symptoms of bowel disorders are abdominal pain, swelling, bloody stool, constipation, diarrhea, and gas. What many people do not realize is that bowel problems are also related to lower back pain. The truth is that bowel problems and lower back pain are inextricably linked. This is because the nerves of both the back and the abdominal area run through the lower part of the spine.
If you suffer from abdominal pain and bloating, it is likely that you also suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. In addition to the classic symptoms like bloating and gas, individuals with IBS often develop extraintestinal symptoms, or symptoms that involve parts of the body beyond the gut. This can include sleep problems, headaches, trouble urinating, fatigue, muscle pain, pain in the pelvis or jaw, and back pain.
Conditions That Cause Lower Back Pain and Constipation
It is also possible that you do not have IBS, but have constipation, which is also linked to lower back pain. Both constipation and lower back pain are fairly common medical issues, and are often nothing to be concerned about, but if they occur suddenly at the same time, it is advisable to see a doctor, as it might be a sign of a more serious issue. For example, the following are examples of conditions that cause both constipation and lower back pain to occur at the same time:
- Bowel obstruction
A bowel obstruction is a gastrointestinal condition in which digested material cannot pass normally or as it should through the bowel. A bowel obstruction can be caused by fibrous tissue that compresses the gut, which can develop many years after abdominal surgery. With a bowel obstruction, the blockage in your colon or rectum can create a dull pain that extends from the abdomen to the lower back.
Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. In individuals with endometriosis, the tissues that should be lining the uterus can be found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or the intestines. Bowel symptoms are very common with endometriosis, as is back pain. This is because endometrial cells can stick to the lower back and the front of the pelvic cavities.
Fibromyalgia is a condition in which an individual experiences widespread muscle pain and tenderness. It is often accompanied by fatigue, altered sleep patterns, memory problems, and mood problems. Those with fibromyalgia can experience long-term back pain, and up to 70% of fibromyalgia patients have functional bowel disorders like IBS, constipation, and diarrhea, according to a study conducted by the University of Health Sciences, Ankara Training and Research Hospital, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
- Liver disorders
Liver disorders include a wide range of conditions that damage the liver and prevent it from functioning properly. Common liver disorders are cancer, cirrhosis, and hepatitis. When the liver swells, it can press on the nerves in the lower back, which leads to back pain. Liver problems are also notorious for affecting bowel movements. For example, if the stool is pale, it might indicate a problem with the liver or other part of the biliary drainage system, which is the body’s way of draining extra bile.
Peritonitis is an inflammation of the peritoneum, which is the tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers and supports most of the abdominal organs. It is usually caused by infection from bacteria or fungi. With this condition, inflammation of the lining of the abdominal wall can occur, which can lead to pain, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. The abdominal pain that comes along with peritonitis can also be felt in the back area for some individuals.
- Urinary tract infections
A urinary tract infection is an infection of any part of the urinary system, from the kidneys and ureters to the bladder and urethra. The most typical symptoms associated with a UTI are a strong, persistent urge to urinate, a burning sensation when urinating, and urine that appears cloudy, but constipation and bowel problems can also come along with UTIs. Furthermore, an upper UTI can cause intense back pain as the infection reaches the kidneys. It is common for those with UTIs to feel pain in the lower back and groin area as well.
Can Physical Therapy Help Lower Back Pain?
Physical therapy is one of the best ways to treat lower back pain, and if your bowel problems are related to back pain, it will ease those symptoms as well. Physical therapy will help ease lower back pain and help you find relief in motion. If you are struggling with this, it is best to seek physical therapy as soon as possible. This will help prevent any need for an operation down the line. In the worst cases, if you do need surgery, our team will be by your side every step of the way helping you recover.
To learn more about the link between lower back pain and constipation, or other bowel problems, call ProFysio Physical Therapy at (732) 812-5200 or contact us online.