We all have experienced a wicked back pain at some point. The internet is abuzz with people joking about how back pain was a thing reserved for people of age; now, with the advent of computers and crazy postures sitting in front of them, we have managed to bring back to the realm of us youngsters. And we’re not talking about the ‘getting sore from playing all day’ pain. No, that’s reminiscent of the good days before we went old at the age of 25. We’re talking about back pain that stems from our constantly craning necks, arched backs and whatnot. Pain which feels like it’s been around for 30 years now (despite most of the sufferers being less than 30 themselves). But did you know, your digestive system can also cause that pesky pain; for instance, like many seem to wonder about, can constipation cause back pain? Let’s take a look, The connection seems unlikely; what business does your gut has with ruining the day with a back ache? But the reality is, all the body systems are very much interconnected and even if at first glance this pain seems out of place due to a gastrointestinal problem, it is very much medically possible and one that makes up a good percentage of back aches reported by people.
So, How can Constipation Cause Back Pain?
First off is constipation, which is a gastrointestinal problem. More specifically, it relates to bowel movement, wherein the whole process becomes less frequent and the faecal matter gets lodged in the large intestine or the colon, which in turn causes discomfort and an inability to pass stool for extended periods of time, days for that matter. And considering the location of the lower back, you can pretty much guess how constipation can cause back pain.
How does Constipation Cause Lower Back Pain?
Constipation occurs when there is no water and fibre in an individual’s diet, causing their faecal matter to lose its water and fibre content, in turn getting hard enough to not easily pass the large intestine and to the expulsion site. When this happens, what usually presents is pain in the abdomen, which can then radiate on to the lower back, causing many people to mistake this particular instance with a problem in the spinal column, when it really is a problem with the gastrointestinal system.
When faecal matter gets lodged in the large intestine or the colon, its proximity with the lower back causes people to mistake it for another problem, whereas medically, cases for back pain induced by constipation are actually diagnosed by checking for pain in the lower back. When the pain in the lower abdomen presents itself, it usually radiates to the lower back. This is how constipation can cause back pain; not directly but rather indirectly, as result of pain radiating from another site in close proximity of the large intestine or the colon.
What Causes Constipation?
Primarily, constipation is caused by an insufficient amount of water or fibre in the stool, which causes the matter to stiffen. Once stiffed up, it gets difficult to expel since it goes through the peristalsis process to work its way through the large intestine and the colon, requiring muscles and sphincters to contract and squeeze the matter out of the body.
When the matter is dehydrated and less in fibrous content, it gets stiff and therefore is much more harder to squeeze out of the intestine. This causes it to get stuck in the same position, and once it cannot pass through, others after it start accumulating in the intestine, pushing against the wall of the colon, causing pain, which in turn radiates to the lower back. Other causes of constipation leading to back pain are,
- Lack of exercise, physical activity
- Obstruction in passing of bowel
- Medications and supplements including calcium etc
Why only Lower Back Pain From Constipation?
Many medical diagnoses for constipation include in them different ways of checking whether the lower back is hurting or not. That is because our body and our muscular system radiates pains and sensations across a set area; for instance, if the pain is in the chest area, it will often radiate to the upper limbs, shoulders and even the jaw (as it is the closest in proximity to the chest cavity). This effect also comes in play in the abdomen and elsewhere in the body; when pain rises in the gut or the abdomen, it will often radiate to other immediate body parts. In the case of the abdomen, the first place the pain radiates to is the lower back, owing to the linkages it has in the skeletal and the muscular system.
This is the reason why only the lower back experiences pain during a constipation event. And it is easy to mistake pain arising from constipation for an actual problem in the vertebral column; considering the lower extremity of the vertebrae is more prone to pain and scoliosis, the pain is more extreme in the lower back and the majority of reports for pain in the back are in fact, located in the lower back.
How to Prevent Constipation?
Preventing constipation is as easy as drinking a glass of water every two hours and eating a fibrous diet. Since the leading cause of constipation is the absence of these two aspects of the human diet, eating them regularly helps prevent it. Similarly, exercise also helps, as physical inactivity can result in the slowing down of peristalsis in the digestive tract, which in turn can lead to constipation. Lastly, you can get fibre from a lot of fruits, vegetables and wheat-based products, so be sure to include them in the diet.
How to Treat for Back Pain Arising from Constipation?
While regular back pain, caused by problems in the spinal column, are not easy to treat and require physical therapy for a long time, back pain due to constipation is much more easy to treat: you’ve got to get rid of the constipation element, and the back pain will go right away. To do that, a lot of water intake in a short time period is needed to replenish the body’s water resource, as it will help soften up the faecal matter. But since the water method will take time, many choose to cut it short by taking laxatives. These are compounds that help regulate the passing of stool and are the most common remedy for constipation. Taking laxatives gets the job done, but is not a permanent solution. The permanent remedy is still water and fibre. Once the constipation has been done away with, the back pain will automatically go away, since there will be no source for the discomfort. That is how to treat for back pain radiating from constipation. For regular back pain, a change in posture, sitting habits (and in extreme cases) physical therapy and surgery are required, which can get the spine back to its original position and curvature, reducing the pressure on the joints of the vertebrae and thus reducing the pain, eliminating it completely. To prevent back pain entirely, take good care of your posture, eat vitamins and maintain a healthy intake of calcium so bones stay strong and do not get brittle.