IBS-C: The Pain of Chronic Constipation
Last updated: October 2021
I have IBS-M and have recently experienced long bouts of constipation. While I am accustomed to pain, I have developed a new pain that is even more annoying than the typical symptoms.
Over the years, I have had a number of different aches, pains, and complaints related to both sides of irritable bowel syndrome. Bloating, gas pains, and cramps have been a part of my daily life for decades. Now a newer symptom is causing me a lot of grief.
Chest pains and severe constipation
The newest pain I have is a relentless pain in my chest. Sometimes it is dull, and other times it can feel a bit sharp. It is always a real pain, and it is one of the most agitating pains I have had with IBS. At times, it is severe enough that I cannot function.
I did not know what was causing this pain for a while. Prescription antacids seemed to be hit or miss. It did seem to reduce the pain a bit, so I am assuming acid reflux contributed to the problem. However, months after starting them the pain has not gone away. It comes and goes in spurts, and its cause was a mystery.
Pinpointing the source of the pain
As I am in the midst of an ongoing bout of constipation, I started noticing more and more chest pain. This flare has been ongoing for some time, so I have had a good bit of time to analyze it all. I noticed that the pain was relieved when I was able to relieve myself. It was a lightbulb moment.
I have always had the cramping anyone with constipation is all too familiar with, but the chest pain is new. It is far higher than any of the pains I have had with IBS, aside from gas pains. This is not a gas pain. It is a pain caused by being very backed up internally.
Dealing with IBS symptoms and pain
I know I am not the only person with IBS who has experienced this symptom. It is simply newer to me. Perhaps I am a bit more backed up than usual as I get older and am less mobile. I feel like my mobility issues are a contributing factor to the level of constipation I am now experiencing.
Of course, a simple solution to dealing with constipation is to take a laxative or stool softener. Unfortunately, either of those is bound to trigger an ongoing IBS-D flare that lasts long after the laxative or stool softener is out of my system. Even milder ones trigger a violent reaction. That leads to a completely different kind of pain.
Knowing when to treat constipation
It is sometimes necessary to treat constipation in order to prevent obstruction or impaction. Either can lead to hospitalization, and it is definitely something you want to avoid. It is best to ask your doctor when and how to treat ongoing constipation in order to avoid serious complications.
I have a limit on how many days I will go before treating constipation. I also have a pain threshold and begin treating if I surpass that. Always ask your doctor what medication to use, and be prepared to stay home for a while.
Have you had chest pains associated with chronic constipation? How did you treat it? I would love to hear about your experience.
Have you ever tried acupuncture to relieve IBS symptoms?