People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) sometimes report symptoms that seem to be unrelated to IBS. One frequently mentioned and unrelated symptom is back pain in general or upper back pain in particular. Abdominal pain is a common symptom experienced by those living with IBS, but the link between upper back pain and IBS isn’t as clearly defined.
Here are 3 possible causes:
- This could be unrelated pain, or it could be “referred pain.” Referred pain occurs when the perception of where pain is felt is distant from the actual cause of pain. One example of this is when people experience jaw pain during a heart attack – the jaw and teeth aren’t the cause of the pain, but the heart attack refers pain to the jaw. The internal organs can often refer pain to other sites, so it is possible for pain caused by IBS to be referred to the back. In the case of IBS, that pain comes from the gut. It’s often due to constipation, gas, or bloating.
- Most people living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) know first-hand the connection with stress and their symptoms. IBS often flares during times of intense stress. Psychological and emotional factors cause some type of physical change resulting in the back pain.If you hold stress in your body, it can affect your back. You may begin to tense your back muscles, which can trigger low back pain or make it worse.
- There is also a link between IBS and fibromyalgia, which causes widespread pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. While fibromyalgia pain can occur throughout the body, the back can be affected by pain.
If you have back pain along with your IBS, don’t assume that they’re related. Make an appointment to get your back pain evaluated by your doctor. You’ll want to know exactly what you’re dealing with and what treatment options are available for your individual situation.