A woman holding her body in pain with cramps.

Coping With Cramping Is a Real Pain

An annoying symptom of irritable bowel syndrome is persistent stomach cramping. Sometimes cramping lasts a few hours, and sometimes it lasts for days at a time. The nagging pain is more than just an aggravation after a short while. It is enough to make you want to crawl into bed and stay there until it is over.

The cramping is awful on its own, but when you add bloating something as simple as putting on a pair of pants makes it tempting to forego getting dressed and stay home. Jeans and abdominal bloating do not mix. Cramping and bloating combined is pure misery some days.

Learning to roll with the punches of IBS

I have spent many years dealing with the pain associated with IBS. There are plenty of days where I muddle through the discomfort because I am unable to find relief. While I have found some ways to cope with the pain of cramps, these methods do not always work and are not always feasible. After dealing with pain for more than a few hours, I am ready to run through the entire list of possible ways to get relief in hopes of even the slightest bit of improvement.

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Some of the milder cramping is simply ignored. After managing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome for more than two decades, I realize that pain cannot be avoided. I do not always have pain, but I can always count on the pain returning. I have learned to overlook minor discomfort, but I do monitor pain levels in an attempt to anticipate future issues and avoid major problems. Proactive rather than reactive is key to managing flare-ups.

From nagging discomfort to severe pain

Nagging cramps are an annoyance that can make for a long day. Soaking in a hot bath often provides a bit of relief. Unfortunately, I cannot spend hours in the tub. If I have things to do, I cannot take time to soak. Heating pads work for others but do not have the same effect for me, so that is not an option.

The most severe cramps keep me close to home because it means other symptoms are just around the corner. These cramps are a burning ache that is sometimes sharp and unrelenting. If this lasts more than a few hours, waves of nausea begin to compound the misery. The worst of the sharp pains will send an odd prickly sensation throughout my entire body for just a brief second. It is hard to explain, but I can assure you it is unsettling. When I experience these cramps, I am usually ready for the next round of symptoms to begin because "going" can often send the cramps packing for a while. Even if the relief is short-lived, it is welcome once I reach that point.

Managing pain caused by cramping

If cramping is severe or lasts more than a day, I begin to restrict my diet. I pay close attention to what I eat. I revert to safe foods and gauge the effect. Sometimes it is enough to take care of the problem, but there are times where it takes fasting to get rid of the pain. A bit of trial and error is required to figure out what works for each episode. It is not always the same.

Everyone is different, and everyone has ways to deal with the pain of irritable bowel syndrome. Managing symptoms is a day-to-day chore that changes over time. Find ways to cope with your symptoms, and be prepared to adjust as needed along the way.

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