Do Bowel Problems Cause Low Back Pain?

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Of all the pain complaints patients give their doctors, lower back pain ranks near the top; in fact more than 80% of patients under 50 years of age complain of lower back pain. But when lower back pain is caused by—or combined with—another physical ailment the pain you feel can be quite unbearable. When it comes to low back pain and bowel problems, there is often a link, which means that curing one can often help cure the other.

It isn’t uncommon for patients to have both bowel problems and lower back pain, as the bowels and back are in close proximity to one another. The key to relieving low back pain and bowel problems is finding the source of one or both sources of pain. 

What Problems Cause Back Pain?

There are several different bowel problems that we know can cause back pain, however the back pain can pre-date the bowel problems in some patients. One such problem is known as irritable bowel syndrome—or IBS—that has been known to cause mild to severe pain in both the bowels and the abdomen. IBS can cause cramping and irregular bowel movements and cause extreme stools, all of which can worsen pain in the lower back region.

Nerve damage in the lumbar region of the back can also cause abdominal and bowel pain. Any bowel problems combined with back pain can also be attributed to tight muscles in the low back disrupting the flow of the nerves to the digestive tract and other internal organs.  

Relieve Bowel Problems & Low Back Pain

So…is there any relief for bowel problems and back pain? The simple answer is ‘yes’. The more complicated answer, however is “it depends”. There are therapies that can relieve the pain, but more may be needed to cure the problem once the source has been pinpointed.

In many instances you may find that seeking medical help for your bowel problems may relieve the back pain, and finding help for the lower back pain can lessen the bowel pain. One way in which you can begin to relieve your pain and discomfort is to manage your stress levels. Try simple treatments such as yoga or exercise and stretching to relieve the pain. Regular stretching and a hot bath is also an effective combination to treat lower back pain and find relief due to bowel problems or inconsistencies.

Massage can provide tremendous lower back pain relief and provide some relief from bowel problems as well. A deep tissue massage in particular can speed up the healing process and reducing pain. Get pain relief throughout the night by sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees to remove the pressure from the lower spine and open the nerve flow in the digestive tract.

Many of the issues that cause back pain can simply exacerbate bowel pain and irritation. Correcting these problems can help alleviate the pain until you find a more permanent solution. Small steps such as wearing flat shoes with arch supports can help reduce back pain. Lift with your legs and not your back, particularly if lifting is an important part of your job.

In addition to these lifestyle changes, you can use many at home back pain remedies to keep the pain away. As the pain presents you will want to lessen it enough to perform basic tasks such as lifting, walking and standing. To do this effectively you will need to relieve the pain and reduce the swelling by using hot and cold compresses, painkillers and even topical pain ointments.

Once you have a temporary fix on the pain, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to diagnose the source of this pain. If possible, document the type of pain you experience, when the pain occurs, when it worsens and what actions alleviate your pain. This will help your doctor determine the right method of diagnosis, which will increase the odds of finding the right diagnosis.

With the right diagnosis, treatment can begin right away. 

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  1. SDS says

    I have been living with both lower back pain & stomach digestive issues for years. I have been to my GP about this repeatedly, for years. 2 colonoscopies, a pat on the back, & basically a “Good luck with that.” Just today, I was in horrible pain, finally had a good “movement,” & the back felt so much better. Obvious the two are related, but I can’t find assistance. Exercise more ? Is more abdominal strength needed?

  2. Steve says


    I can tell you that I live with diverticulosis and I need to and do, supplement with, Fiber DAILY, I do not care what anyone says it is very hard to get enough fiber in ones diet on a daily bases and if you do find relief with daily movements you need to make the movement easier…


  3. John says

    Good luck getting a doctor to believe you know what you’re talking about. I have spinal stenosis, two fusions, severe facet pain at the L3-L4 Level so I can’t remain vertical for any length of time, lower back pain which improves when I have a bowel movement, thigh pain, burning down the back of my right leg, and extreme pain in an artificial (Biomet Magnum) hip joint that has no nerves in it. Why won’t any doctor try to figure it out and do something?

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