Just what causes that backache from your irritable bowel syndrome?

Back pain is perhaps the world’s leading nonfatal health problem.

And it has tons of possible causes — ranging from a simple pulled muscle to PMS to fibromyalgia to multiple sclerosis to a pinched nerve to cancer metastases involving the spine.

That last cause, as scary as that is, is not at the top of the list for common causes of back pain.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome’s Connection to Back Pain

For this article I consulted with Michael Blume, MD, a gastroenterologist at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, Baltimore.

  • The question isn’t if IBS can cause backache.
  • The question is just how does this happen, and what can be done to remedy it?

Dr. Blume explains, “Colitic pain (usually crampy pain relieved by having a bowel movement or passing gas) can often be felt in the back.  This represents a phenomenon called referred pain, and reflects the innervation of your colon.

“In short, it is how you are wired together.  You treat the back pain by treating the IBS.”

Before you attribute your back pain to IBS, first make sure that you have IBS.

Don’t assume it just because other family members were diagnosed and/or your symptoms are a perfect match to this condition.

IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning, there is no test for this disorder. It is diagnosed when all other tests are negative.

This includes a colonoscopy. Even young adults with IBS-like symptoms should still undergo a colonoscopy to rule out other causes for the bloating, cramping, diarrhea, constipation and back pain.

A benign inflammatory bowel disease called microscopic colitis causes symptoms very similar to that of irritable bowel syndrome.

This includes back pain in a small percentage of MC patients!

Treatment of MC differs from that for IBS. This is why a colonoscopy is so important.

This procedure can also detect other conditions that can cause symptoms that mimic those of IBS that also cause back pain. Colon cancer, however, is very rare in people under 40.

In practice for 20+ years, Dr. Blume treats over 65 conditions including abdominal pain, appetite loss, blood in stool, celiac disease, colon cancer, esophageal and liver disease, gas and IBS.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.