Back pain is caused by so many things that it can be difficult to identify but does constipation really cause back pain? Yes, it is possible. If constipation is the cause of pain in your back, then it can mean a more serious issue with your digestive system which may require treatment.
Let’s take a look at how constipation can cause back pain.
What is constipation?
Constipation is a condition in which a person has hard and dry bowel movements. It also involves passing fewer stools less than three times a week. Constipation can have causes that aren’t due to underlying disease. Examples include dehydration, lack of dietary fibre, physical inactivity or medication side effects.
Symptoms of constipation
There is no specific number of times that a person has to move his or her bowels within a week. Each person’s bowel habits are different. Some people can go 3 times a week or even 3 times a day. You can be considered to have constipation if you experience the following symptoms
- Fewer than three bowel movements a week
- Passing lumpy, hard, or dry stools
- Straining or pain during bowel movements
- A feeling of fullness, even after having a bowel movement
If the symptoms do not disappear and you start to experience the symptoms below, then you may need to seek medical attention
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal pain
- Pain in the lower back
- A feeling that gas is trapped
- Unexplained weight loss
- A sudden change in bowel movements
What causes constipation?
Constipation can be caused by a poor diet. Dietary fiber and adequate water intake are necessary to help keep stools soft.
Stress can also cause constipation. Stress, changes in routine, and conditions that slow muscle contractions of the colon or delay your urge to go may also lead to constipation.
Other common causes of constipation include
- low fibre diet, (especially diets high in meat, milk, or cheese)
- Low exercise levels
- Delaying the impulse to have a bowel movement
- Travel or other changes in routine
- Medications, including certain antacids, pain medications, diuretics, and some treatments for Parkinson’s disease
- Older age
How does constipation cause back pain?
A condition resulting from an infection or tumour pressing on the spinal cord can lead to back pain. Sometimes Constipation may be a side effect of the condition.
Faecal impaction causing back pain
It is also possible for faecal impaction to cause low back pain. Faecal impaction occurs when a piece of dry stool is stuck in the colon or rectum. The pressure in the rectum or colon can result in pain radiating to the back or abdomen.
How can I treat back pain caused by constipation?
Changing what you eat is the first time treating constipation. Try adding more fibre and water to your diet to help soften your stool and make it easier to pass.
If constipation occurs after starting a new diet or taking a new medication, have a chat with your doctor. They can help you adjust the diet or medication or give the OK to stop it altogether.
Some treatments below can also help treat back pain caused by constipation
Exercising regularly. Physical activities are good for promoting proper circulation and keeping your bowels healthy.
Drink more water and fluids.
Adding more fibre to your diet can also help treat pain in the back caused by constipation.
Over-the-counter stool softeners, suppositories, and laxatives can help with temporary constipation. You can also try natural stool softeners and laxatives. For cases of chronic constipation, your doctor can help treat the underlying cause.
Are there other conditions that can cause lower back pains?
Yes, other health conditions can make you experience pain in your back besides constipation.
Here are some of them
The inflammation of the appendix is what we refer to as appendicitis. The appendix is a small organ that extends from the first part of the colon to your lower right abdomen. The appendix of some people even extends behind the colon which can cause lower back pain.
This is a condition that requires immediate medical attention. Other symptoms of appendicitis include; diarrhoea, constipation, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, inability to release gas, etc. A ruptured appendix can spread infection through your abdominal cavity and is life-threatening. Consult a medical doctor or health professional if you exhibit any signs of appendicitis.
This is a tear in the lining of the last part of the rectum. A common cause of anal fissure is constipation. Lower back pain and stool which has blood can be caused by an anal fissure.
Some signs of an anal fissure include; pain in the anus that worsens during defecation, pain around the buttocks, the upper part of the thighs and the lower back.
A bowel obstruction is a gastrointestinal condition in which digested substances cannot pass normally or as they should through the bowel. A bowel obstruction can be caused by fibrous tissue that compresses the gut, which can develop many years after abdominal surgery.
When there is a bowel obstruction, the blockage in your colon or rectum can create pain that extends from the abdomen to the lower back.
It is a condition in which the tissues responsible for lining the uterus, grows outside the uterus. The tissues that should be lining the uterus can be found on the ovaries, fallopian tubes or the intestines in people with endometriosis.
Bowel symptoms are also very common with endometriosis and back pain. This is because endometrial cells can stick to the lower back and the front of the pelvic cavities.
This is a condition in which a painful sore develops inside your rectum. Rectal ulcer is usually caused by constipation, solitary rectal ulcer syndrome. When this condition occurs, the pain from your rectum can move to your lower back.
Also, you can experience severe pain when it comes to powerful bowel movements. Bloody stool is also a sign of a rectal ulcer.
Urinary tract infections
Infections that affect any part of the urinary system of the human body is what we call urinary tract infection (UTI). The common sign of a UTI is the strong urge to urinate. Urinating comes along with a burning sensation and the urine has a cloudy nature.
UTIs also cause bowel problems which can lead to blood in your stool. They can also cause serious pain around the lower part of your back as the infection reaches your kidneys. Feeling pain in the lower part of your back is very common when it comes to UTI.
Another cause of lower back pain and blood in the stool is haemorrhoids. Haemorrhoids are swollen veins in your lower rectum and anus which causes discomfort and bleeding. Straining during bowel movements can also cause haemorrhoids. Inflamed and swollen haemorrhoids can lead to lower back pain.
Diverticular disease (Diverticulosis)
Diverticulosis happens when small, bulging pouches (diverticula) develop in your digestive tract. When one or more of these pouches become inflamed or infected, the condition is called diverticulitis. The diverticula can also bulge in the walls of your rectum leading to the formation of abscess which leads to abdominal pain and blood in the stool.
Lower left abdominal pain is a common cause of diverticulitis. Blood, mucous, or pus found in the stool is also another cause of diverticular disease.
Disorder of the liver
The liver disorder is caused by a wide variety of conditions that damage the liver making it unable to function properly. Common liver disorders include cancer, cirrhosis, and hepatitis. When the liver happens to swell up, it can press on the nerves in the lower back which results in the person feeling pain.
Liver problems are also known to cause problems for regular bowel movements. Common liver disorders are cancer, cirrhosis, and hepatitis. Blood in the stool is also another problem of bowel movement caused by liver problems.
The takeaway from this article
Constipation can cause you to experience pain in your back. However, some other health conditions can cause you to feel pain in your back too. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about such when you experience pain at your back whiles being constipated or not.
WRITTEN AND EDITED RESPECTIVELY BY:
Dr. Ehoneah Obed is a registered pharmacist and a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana. He has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and has experience working in a Tertiary hospital as well as various community pharmacies. He is also a software engineer interested in healthcare technologies.
His love for helping others motivates him to create content on an array of topics mostly relating to the health of people and also software engineering content.
He is knowledgeable in digital marketing, content marketing, and a host of other skills that make him versatile enough to uplift any team he joins.