Is IBS painful?

If you have Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, as it is more commonly known, pain may be one of your symptoms. Whether IBS is painful or not, you will need to seek professional medical advice. I help people with IBS pain, using hypnotherapy. I see people in London, often following a referral from a gastroenterologist.

Why is IBS painful?

IBS is a disorder often characterised by cramps, bloating, and episodes of constipation, diarrhoea or both. There are also other symptoms, with pain being one particular symptom which prompts a lot of concern for sufferers.

IBS is viewed as a result of a disrupted communication pathway between the gut and brain. This causes the signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Since there is no disease cause, this type of condition is commonly referred to as a functional gastrointestinal disorder. This though doesn’t mean it’s any less serious and any pain you may have is still very real indeed.

Research continues into exactly why some people get IBS. It could be that for some, the digestive system is especially sensitive to stress or to certain foods. About 10 to 15 percent of adults in the United States report IBS pain or other symptoms. Women are considered twice as likely to experience IBS symptoms as men. IBS is also more common in those under the age of 50.

We will look at 10 symptoms of IBS. I hope that you will find this information useful. For many IBS is painful. We will look at other common symptoms that accompany IBS pain.  

1. Cramps and Pain

People with IBS may experience pain in their lower abdomen. So, ask yourself when is IBS painful for you? You may find it useful to keep a journal or diary of pain frequency or intensity. Do you notice certain foods or events make pain feel stronger or weaker? Experiencing pain or cramps in the lower abdomen area are two important symptoms of IBS. The pain can result from an oversensitivity of the gut.

IBS is about how the brain and gut work with each other. The muscles in the gut can contract more than they need and affect normal bowel movements too. When you have excessive gut muscle contractions, this can result in abdominal pain and cramping.

2. Excessive IBS wind

People with IBS, unfortunately may fart more. This can be embarrassing. It is the case that the reason for this is often unclear. One explanation is that IBS interferes with bacteria in the gut. The bacteria release toxins and it is these toxins that may cause excessive wind. Another school of thought is that the guts of IBS sufferers are less skilled at moving wind through the system.

3. IBS Bloating

Though IBS is painful, many people feel bloated too. Bloating is when gas or wind collects in the gut. This causes the tummy to feel full and therefore it appears rounder than usual. The same causes of excessive wind in IBS may also be the cause of bloating.

4. IBS with Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is a common symptom of IBS. This happens since the muscles found in the gut will contract more than they really need to. Diarrhoea can frequently be accompanied by muscle cramps.

A normal bowel movement involves the gut contracting and relaxing in a systematic, rhythmic way. In IBS, this rhythm becomes disrupted. IBS can cause either a speeding up or slowing down of gut muscle contractions. This therefore means IBS can cause both constipation and diarrhoea on different occasions. Just like with other IBS symptoms, diarrhoea is related to how the brain and gut communicate.

5. IBS with Constipation

Constipation occurs when an individual finds it difficult to pass a stool. There are several possible causes of IBS constipation, which includes dehydration, a lack of fibre in the diet or stress. IBS may result in constipation by affecting how the muscles in the gut work and contract. When someone has constipation, their gut muscles do not contract enough as they should.

6. Sensitivity to fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols

It has been shown that eating onions or garlic may increase intestinal gas. People with IBS symptoms can be more sensitive to fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols (FODMAP) foods. These foods are types of carbohydrate that can unfortunately cause inflammation or irritation within the gut.

FODMAPs can also increase the quantity of water going into the gut. Also bacteria in the gut may cause them to ferment and this can increase intestinal wind. Many people may be able to control symptoms of IBS, such as pain, by avoiding high-FODMAP foods. These food can include:

  • onions
  • avocados
  • lentils
  • almonds
  • cashews
  • garlic
  • beans

7. Fatigue from IBS

Feeling very tired or experiencing fatigued is another common symptom of IBS. Fatigue can accompany bowel-related symptoms, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life. Is IBS painful? It is physically but also emotionally painful.

8. IBS Joint Pains

Some people with IBS can have joint pain. As such IBS is painful from this perspective too. Though unclear, the reason for IBS joint pain, could be due to increased inflammation in the body. A study in 2017 found that people with IBS had a higher risk of temporomandibular disorder, a joint pain condition.

9. Feeling stressed due to IBS

There has been found a strong link between IBS being painful and stress. This is most likely due to the nervous system, which also controls the gut, responding to outside psychological stress. The link between IBS pain and symptoms and stress goes back and forth both ways. When someone feels stressed, this can worsen IBS symptoms. Also the physical symptoms of IBS may also cause psychological distress in return.

10. IBS Brain fog

Increased intestinal wind and bloating, common symptoms of IBS, are linked also with brain fog. Brain fog, or experiencing foggy thinking, is a mental confusion, including impaired judgement, and having trouble concentrating.

Is IBS painful or are symptoms something else?

Remember that IBS is not the only one explanation for the symptoms mentioned in this article. It is recommended to always speak to a doctor to get a clear diagnosis.

As mentioned, I help people experiencing IBS pain, using hypnotherapy. For more information about my session in London, click here. If you are asking, is IBS painful, I hope this article has provided help.