Describing My IBS Pain

Describing My IBS Pain

My IBS has evolved a lot over the years. It started out with frequent bouts of diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. Now, it’s still all those symptoms, but includes back pain, body aches, headaches, and pain in private areas that is sadly hard for me to admit and be open about (not to mention the mental toll this condition takes on me as well). Over the years it has been very hard for me to describe the pain my IBS causes, both for lack of words and because I was really embarrassed to share them. However, now I realize the importance of discussing these issues in detail because raising awareness about my condition helps healthcare professionals, other IBS sufferers, and anyone related to IBS sufferers understand the severity of IBS and act on researching and developing better treatments for people living with this horrible condition. Therefore, in this article I want to share details about some of the physical pain that I endure as an IBS sufferer, and out of curiosity I want to know if any of you can relate, or not.

Here are some of the real painful symptoms that I experience daily…

Pain on the lower left side of my stomach

This dull, cramping pain is always present which makes it hard for me to sleep or be touched on the left side of my body. I noticed that the pain sometimes moves around to the middle or even the right side of my stomach, but for the most part it stays on my left side. I’m not sure if this pain is caused by intestinal blockages, but when I take laxatives or fiber it only gets worse (so I don’t anymore). I wake up constantly throughout the night because of this pain and am not able to move around comfortably as I sleep.

Pain that shoots from my stomach down to my anus

This one is a bit embarrassing to admit, but I feel I must divulge this piece of information in case others experience this as well. To describe in more detail, the pain feels like a sharp knife is slicing through my insides starting from the top of my abdomen down to my anus. It happens so fast and it’s so painful that it literally stops me in my tracks. I can’t even tell you what causes this pain because it happens at the most random moments. From what I’ve read, this mainly happens due to gas, however, I don’t always have gas when this happens. Speaking of gas pain…

Pain caused by gas

This is the kind of pain that not only wakes me up in the middle of the night more than once, but also brings extreme anxiety into my life at the most inconvenient moments. Dealing with IBS, the gas pain gets to be very intense and unbearable at times. The type of gas pain I feel is variable, sometimes I feel like I have an urgent need to use the toilet, but instead it’s just gas. Other times, the gas can be so stubborn that it makes me feel constipated and extremely bloated. Even the act of releasing the gas itself can be painful. Overall, gas can be quite tricky and highly discomforting for me as an IBS sufferer.

Pain in my lower back

I have been suffering intense back pain almost every day due to horrible posture and constant sitting on the toilet. I have to crack my back often throughout the day to relieve the stiffness, which I know only makes the situation worse because I’ll just have to crack it again a few moments later. The back pain also affects my sleep, and as a result I end up sleeping on a wedge pillow for better posture and comfort. I’ve been to chiropractors in the past for this issue, and they tend to help momentarily, however the pain would always come back and $75 per visit adds up extremely fast. Even though I assume I’ll have to deal with back pain for the rest of my life, I am a little hopeful that working on core exercises over the next year will help with this a little.

Pain in my head

The straining and pushing while I’m on the toilet causes me to get intense headaches which affect my eye sight for a very short moment. I guess I could consider them mini-migraines for how painful they can get to be. At times during an intense mini-migraine, I experience black flying specs within my vision and I almost feel like I’m going to pass out, which is something I’m afraid could happen one day.

Fatigue

Literally, almost every time I finish up a bathroom session my body gets extremely weak on me and I have zero motivation to do anything at all but lie down. Granted, there are circumstances when I have no choice but to keep it moving because I have to support my family. However, it is a constant struggle to do so once I’ve used up a lot of energy on the toilet and sometimes, I simply can’t. The extreme fatigue that IBS causes me really holds me back from doing so many things, which gets to be extremely frustrating for me.

I can go on and on about different kinds of pain that I experience due to my IBS, but I want to leave room for you all to provide different perspectives of what we go through as IBS sufferers. Suffering from IBS is a lot more complicated than people think, and I am doing my best to help describe those complexities the best way I can. I believe there’s so much more to IBS that many of us, including experts, don’t understand yet, which is why I believe we should speak up about aspects of our condition that aren’t normally spoken about.

Can any of you IBS sufferers describe pain you experience that isn’t normally discussed in conversation? Please feel free to comment below and thank you for taking the time to read my article.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (14)
  • DorisE
    9 months ago

    (Sorry as a Newbie not sure whether to leave reply/comments here or further down page?)
    Over fifteen years ago it all started with not making it to the bathroom when I had to have a bowel movement. Over the years it has (for various reasons, some unknown) it has now developed with increasing pain before, during and after diarrhea. Cleaning up is a problem – try getting it off your slippers! Seriously, tho, it has become worse and the pain – sort of unending cramps, knives, even forks going through my bowels, that I have to go lie in bed for up to six hours. Thankfully, this all started just before I retired from work – otherwise I would not have been able to work as its every few days. I think its important for Dr. to know where the pain is: mine is in centre above my waist and across, and down the right side and over the bladder area. Now I have it every day, with or without the “runs” depending on how well the anti diarrhea meds beginning with “I” has worked from day before. But its always there in the background.
    Very open of people to speak about private parts of their bodies; several years ago I would wake up and I thought I was having a nightmare of a wooden object being inserted into my rectum (no, never did anything like that in my life) and HURT… unbelievable. It happened about three times in a month so eventually got the nerve to tell my doctor, but only after checking on Internet and there is a name for it, and doesn;t seem to be connected to IBS. Haven’t had it since. As I have IBS|-D, by the time I have emptied my bowels for about the 6th time, the area of the anus gets so sore I could cry – the only relief I used to get was to put some warm water in a Sitz bath and it did help – but then I started getting UTI’s from sitting in the germy water. So now I get one of those round cotton makeup pads and put some zinc type ointment on – the one I use but not allowed to say the brand, is in a round tin in the baby department and begins with a P. So i put some ointment on and place it and i does soothe… however, be careful with clothing as it is hard to get off dark fabric. So that is a short version of my pain and I think I will have it forever. I could write five pages of all the other problems, as I am sure everyone could… and I feel for everyone who has IBS C or D or both, because until you actually have it, it is hard for others to completely understand how life changing it is. Hang in there tho – because mine has been for so long and is getting worse, with the medical profession and public becoming more aware of this, newer drugs and diets etc. are being discussed – so I hope and believe there will be some help for everyone sooner than later.

  • carl
    9 months ago

    Hi
    I have had IBS for over 30yrs.To begin with I could console it bit now I just don’t know what to do anymore.I have bouts of constipation and Diarrrhoea.
    I have had all the checks colonoscopy etc.
    I have been on the fodmap diet but my body just gets use to everything.Its the nausea and the pain that goes with it.
    I really don’t know what to do anymore.Is there any more help out there.
    I would be grateful for any suggestions.
    Thanks

  • jaeger91
    9 months ago

    Hi, Carl. You could ask your doctor whether hyoscyamine would be right for you. My GI gave me a prescription for it. It dissolves on the tongue, which is better than swallowing a pill during nausea. It treats muscle cramps of the bowel. The trick is to take it at the earliest sign of pain and to completely avoid alcohol.

  • DorisE
    9 months ago

    Hello Carl… I forgot to mention in my long comment here today that I do use a heating pad of sorts on my stomach all the time in bed. It doesn’t cure the pain but it does feel a tiny bit better – enough that I would recommend it. I make the heating pads for myself and friends and its like some you see in the stores – just an oblong of fabric (which MUST be all cotton, and cotton thread) and then fill it with uncooked rice. (I used to use cleaned oats, not porridge, but oats from the gardening store)… then sew it up and put in Microwave for up to two minutes. But, for non sewers a new hundred per cent cotton sock (man or large size) and put about 3 or 4 cups of rice in – enough to fill about 3/4 full so it flops around – and if cannot sew across the opening of the sock to keep the rice in, tie a tight knot in the sock, and put in microwave. It is very comfy and stays warm for about twenty minutes. IF anyone is interested, I can send you more information – you cannot heat it up too much, as basically it is a food and will burn or could burn someone – so two minutes, and one minute for a reheat. Or, a regular hot water bottle or electric heating pad. Hope it helps a wee bit.

  • breannhansen
    9 months ago

    Hi there, I am 24 years old and I was diagnosed with IBS-D and gastritis almost 4 months ago. My life has been crazy! I cant go to the grocery store without getting super nauseous and dizzy so I buy my groceries online now. When Im on my way to work I get nervous when Im stuck in traffic if Ill make it to the bathroom before I have an accident. This has changed my life completely. I have two little boys I raise on my own so its a constant struggle sometimes. Lately I have been having horrible flare ups for no reason my stomach bloats like im 8 months pregnant. My nausea increases and my right leg goes numb for no reason, I get shooting pains in my stomach and sides. Its so hard to cope with when Im at work Im scared of losing my job because it gets unbearable at times. I am on Viberzi for my IBS and it helps from going to the bathroom so often but does not relieve any pain. I am also on omeprezole for my gastitis and that does not seem to help either. I keep informing my GI doctor of my new symptoms and they just tell me to keep taking the medicine. I have been taking both meds for 3 months! Also, my pain is horrible at night. I find myself waking up 4 times in the middle of the night because of side pains and just touching my sides to get some relief makes me want to cry!

  • HessP moderator author
    9 months ago

    Please know many of us can relate and you are not alone, breannhansen! I’m so sorry to hear about your hardships with this horrible condition as I have encountered similar obstacles with my IBS as well, so your story resonates with me. One of our contributors has written an article on tips for IBS sufferers at work, which I think you may be interested in. If you haven’t read it yet, here is the link: https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/living/tips-tricks-tools-work/ . I truly hope you find it helpful with managing your symptoms at work, or anywhere else, for that matter. Please know we’re always here for support and we’re all fighting this great fight together. Thank you for taking the time to share with us and stay strong! Best, Hess (IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team member)

  • brnttoast
    10 months ago

    I can relate to the feeling of exhaustion and how frustrating it is. A normal flare up for me will begin with nausea, followed with a ton of cramping and gas pain – all my work pants are about 3 sizes too big around the waist because my stomach bloats so much and oh god the pain. The cramping can double me over real fast. I feel like a horrible employee because I call out sick so often, just like growing up in school I always had to have letters from doctors at the ends of year explaining that yep, I was still competent in each curriculum despite missing so many days and didn’t need to repeat the grade.

    If I have to rush to the bathroom, the cramping gets near unbearable, and affects my stomach to my lower back, feels somewhat like I’ve swallowed a good number of razorblades that are jumbling about in there. Several times I’ve passed out from the pain, which is a nightmare in its own right. I have severe anxiety so I’m sure it has a major hand in these symptoms becoming so intense. I’ll get icy cold sweats and become extremely dizzy. I have to try and focus on breathing to keep myself from passing out. Headaches happen regularly with flare-ups. It seems like there are a ridiculous number of triggers, including foods and strenuous physical activity, but getting too hot can set it off too. 🙂 It’s never a fun time, that’s for sure! I keep imodium with me and ginger ale and crackers at home, and am testing out CBD supplementation with it too. Basically either I have to endure it for days of hours-long sessions of living in the bathroom, or take some imodium when I feel a flare up starting, go lie down (or leave work, sigh) and force my brain to chill and let the medication try to help.

  • HessP moderator author
    10 months ago

    Thank you for being able to relate to my article, brnttoast! I can definitely relate to yours, especially when it comes to school, which was quite a struggle for me back then. I’m also sorry to hear how severe your IBS is, which is another thing I can relate to as well. Seems like a lot of us IBS sufferers have a lot in common in regards to our condition. However, what’s important is that we continue to do our best to manage our symptoms and stay on top of our health. It seems like you’re doing your best at that, and that’s all that matters. Thank you so much for sharing and please know we’re always here for support! Best, Hess (IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team member)

  • january1952
    10 months ago

    When I first developed IBS I had severe left lower stomach. I would barely make it through work and when I came home I curled up on my bed and stayed there. That was 20 years ago. Over the years I have progressed to the headaches backache and just general all over sick feeling. I take gas-x and Tramadol to relieve symptoms to dull ache. I have to watch my diet. I love raw vegetables but that triggers episodes. Sometimes it seems I look at food and have a bad day.

  • HessP moderator author
    10 months ago

    I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles with IBS, january1952! I, and I’m sure many other IBS sufferers, can certainly relate. Finding what works best for us is definitely a challenging process, which is why we all have to stick together, so please know we’re always here for support. Have you considered the low FOFMAP diet? – Hess (IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team)

  • DLCogg
    10 months ago

    Firstly, I would like to commend HessP on his continued excellence in writing about his experiences with IBS. If you post an article, I always read it. Your experiences just seem to resonate with me so well. I appreciate your candor and courage in talking about a subject that is so hard, and admittedly for me, just downright humiliating to talk about with anyone, including my physicians.
    For me, personally, any deviance from my daily regimented routine of diet, exercise, and sleep brings on IBS symptoms. Traveling has become a nightmare for me, which is heartbreaking to this grandmother of 4 lively, and very much loved grandsons, that live in different states. I’m still working with my health care provider to find the right plan that will allow my body to fly, adjust to new schedules without migraine and body aches, and still be able to be involved in the experience, and not just be immersed in my IBS.
    It’s a journey, but articles like yours, HessP, gives me hope that I’m not the only one that has to deal with this condition, and gives me the strength to keep moving ahead!

  • HessP moderator author
    10 months ago

    Your words mean more than you know, DLCogg! Thank you very much for those very kind words! =)

    I’m also glad to hear that you have a regiment that works for you! Unfortunately, us IBS sufferers have to be very strict on ourselves if we’re looking to lead a life with less flare-ups. However, having a strict lifestyle gives us a sense of discipline and willpower to keep persevering through the rough times, which are qualities you obviously have and I truly admire. I hope you and your health care provider find the right plan for you sooner than later, so that way you can visit your grandsons anytime you please! If I may throw a suggestion to you, maybe you can find a way to video chat via cellphone or computer-device with your grandsons, so that it’ll almost be the same as seeing them in person. Just a suggestion! =)

    Once again, thank you so much for your very kind words and uplifting support! In fact, I have my own YouTube channel you may be interested in, which is also geared towards raising awareness for irritable bowel syndrome and sharing my experiences in a very creative way. If you are interested in seeing more of my IBS-related content, here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTn5TSKjTq9S7aFi7ZFzBgA . Wishing you much strength and determination to push through the difficult times! Stay positive!

    Best,
    Hess (IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team)

  • horselover
    10 months ago

    Describing my IBS pain.
    You are right on target with these descriptions. I am now in the second day of an acute episode of pain. For someone who has never experienced this I know it is embarrassing to be so graphic with the details of what it feels like even to a loved one who is very supportive.

    For me, one main thing that causes the onset of a severe episode is anything I ingest that may cause an acidic reaction, as I can feel that immediately (even a small amount a chocolate). I am so careful most of the time but two days ago I slipped up.

    Do you experience that as one of your triggers? It maybe something to be aware of.

  • HessP moderator author
    10 months ago

    I’m glad you were able to relate to my article, horselover! However, I’m sorry to hear about you suffering through an acute IBS episode, and I truly hope you are feeling much better now! I can also relate because chocolate can definitely trigger my symptoms, especially if I have too much of it. Thank you for pointing that out because its important for us to constantly be aware of our triggers, so that way if/when we’re having an episode, we’ll have an idea of what the cause could be. Thank you for sharing and keep fighting the great fight!

    Best,
    Hess (IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team)

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