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Different Types Of IBS Pain

Different Types Of IBS Pain

Over the years I have felt many different types of pain related to my IBS and when I read or hear about other people’s experience with IBS, pain seems to be a very common symptom. The problem that I have with IBS pain is that how the pain feels and the severity or strength of the pain varies so much. Sometimes it disappears quickly, sometimes it can keep me up all night.

The other thing about IBS pain is that it is difficult to pin down where exactly it is coming from. If I have twisted my ankle for example I can usually see the swelling and see exactly where it was damaged. Plus I can give it a rub, rest it or, or do some stretches, or if it’s really bad take some pain relief medication. But it is so hard to figure out where my digestive pain is coming from because my belly space includes so many different organs and different aspects of the digestive process.

It’s also good to remember that if you are experiencing a new type of pain, or the pain you have been experiencing is getting worse, have a chat to your doctor about it to be on the safe side.

The “it hurts so much I think I need to vomit” pain

Have you had pain like this? When it hurts so bad that it keeps you awake at night? When it takes over your whole body and you really can’t do anything but lie in bed and groan? I get this type of pain on and off but thankfully I’ve never had pain so bad that I felt like calling an ambulance or heading off to the emergency room but I know of others that have.

The “I feel like I am about to burst” pain

This pain usually accompanies bloating and it feels like my insides are stretched to maximum capacity! Like when someone is blowing up a balloon and it gets so big that if they add just one more breath it’s going to burst with a big bang! Yeah. That can hurt.

The “stop what I’m doing and wait for it to pass” pain

I could be just chatting to someone, or eating a meal, or driving my car and bang, it hits me! A sharp, stabbing pain. It almost feels like something is moving in my intestines and it’s got caught or something and it’s tearing me apart! Then after just a few seconds or moments, it passes and it’s gone. If I’m with someone they’ll usually ask if I’m ok because I’ve stopped mid-sentence with a grimace on my face!

The “ouch! I don’t think I’ll press there again” pain

Sometimes my pain is hidden. I’ll just be going about life and I’ll touch my abdomen for some reason and stumble across a really, really sore spot. So I’ll investigate a little further and poke and prod my belly and yep, every time I touch that exact spot it hurts! Sometimes it’s still there the next day, sometimes it’s gone.

The “dull, constant cramping” pain

This one can be very annoying because it can last for some time and I’ve never figured out the best way to help it pass. It almost like my body is taking to me saying “you shouldn’t have eaten that!”

Have you experienced any of these types of pain? Or perhaps you’ve had different types of pain?

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


  • nana04
    3 weeks ago

    i have been suffering with IBS-C for the past 8 months 24/7. i have had to go by ambulance to ER 4 times. They did nothing but tests and sent me home with the pain. i have been to 4 Gi doctors to no avail. They don’t listen. i went by ambulance to hospital this past Friday afternoon. After waiting 5 hours I was seen. They did a 3rd cat scan and abdominal xray and all negative. i have had every test they can do in the past 8 months. Doctor in ER suggested i be admitted for pain management. Then ordered 4mg of morphine. First time in 8 months no pain but we know opiods are not good for constipation. i am still in hospital. They have no clue how bad the pain is. They gave me morphine for a couple of days. i am supposed to be discharged today. Last night miralax and suppository. Just cramps and nothing. i told them i was not leaving today doubled over in pain. Now I have to appeal to medicare to stay without paying. When I came in my electrolytes were all off and wS told I was malnourished. All I have eaten for 8 months is eggs, toast, and baked potato. This morning they gave me an enema. Didn’t do the trick. Next prune juice mixed with miralax. Finally some relief but still have pain in area above belly button. i am beside myself. No pain management and was told ER doctor should not have told me that. i am at the end of my rope.

  • john0314
    4 months ago

    I get a pain or ache in usually middle and comes and goes for days when have a flair. Knocks me down really, just unlike a pain in back or anything like that. Can’t focus, no energy to do anything, like someone is inside there punching to get out

  • HessP moderator
    4 months ago

    That’s quite a way to describe the pain, @john0314! I know that I, and many other with IBS, can resonate with how that feels, at least to some degree. In fact, I wrote an article that is very similar to your sentiment. In case you’re interested in reading it, here is the link: I hope you find it relatable. Nonetheless, thank you for sharing and being a part of the community! Stay strong! – Hess, Team member

  • tmholland moderator
    8 months ago

    Hi @mari4,

    I think you voiced the sentiments of many of us on this site. I’ve been terrified of food…what kind of world do we live in when someone is terrified of food :-)? It seems like you are doing the best you can to help yourself feel better and that’s really all any of us can do. Here is an article I recently wrote about my experience with the mixed version of IBS. I hope that it is at least mildly interesting. Hang in there. -Todd, Team

  • Mari4
    8 months ago

    The IBS-M I have is quite frustrating because it varies. The bloating is almost constant. The gastro guy isn’t helping. FODMAP is too general. I’ve been to docs and dietitians and psychs and it’s just still there. I get depressed and anxious a lot over it. It either causes it or results from it. Two way street. So right now I’m using GI Microb-X and Mega spore biotic. Medications don’t work for me. I use a charcoal +fennel for gas. It’s the eating that confounds me. I’m terrified of food but hunger makes it worse. Sometimes I feel like I can’t win this. I don’t want to go anywhere. Don’t enjoy eating out. Don’t want to drink alcohol. Bummer. And I’m 73!!!

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    8 months ago

    Thank you for sharing you story with us Mari4. You are not alone here. Sounds like you’ve tried many things. Have you found any diet changes to be helpful? Many in our community agree that symptoms change and what helps or doesn’t can change as well. I’d encourage you to keep trying and keep reaching out. Sending positive thoughts your way for some relief ahead. Thinking of you. Kelly, Team member

  • LucyB
    11 months ago

    For years I was told that I have IBS. It turns out that it’s a milk allergy. So many doctors, including GI specialists, missed it. I’m now prone to believe that everyone who has IBS actually has a food allergy or intolerance.

  • Hannah Noonan moderator author
    11 months ago

    Wow I’m glad you were able to find a cause @lucyb! Food allergies or intolerances can absolutely cause IBS-like symptoms – Hannah ( Team)

  • tannersnan
    2 years ago

    I have traveling pain for years and have has countless tests with it all ending in IBS constipation type. With spastic colon. The pain is in lowers back, under back ribs, in front ribs, in groin. So discouraged because the food I need to eat for fiber I can’t eat because a lot of it is gassy, ie broccoli, beans,eggs. I am new to this site and looking forward to others experiences that have helped.

  • ladymindful
    2 years ago

    I have the pain all the time though it’s worse at night. It often wakes me up and I can’t go back to sleep.

  • jaeger91
    2 years ago

    I get the “it hurts so much I think I need to vomit” pain. It actually wakes me in the middle of the night sometimes. Lying down is unbearable during this pain. I have occasionally vomited from it, it has been so bad. Usually though, I just get very nauseous and get the chills from it. If I had not known what the cause of the pain was and that it would stop sometime after my bowel movements, I would have called an ambulance. Even now, I have to remind myself to stay calm and that the pain will pass. Like the article reads, most other types of pain are localized, isolated sensations we can easily pinpoint. Abdominal pain is widespread and effects the whole body by causing more symptoms (in addition to the pain).

  • DorisE
    2 years ago

    Flat out in bed, heating pad on belly and shoulders.. agree, if I had never felt like this before, I would be at Emerg. Know all they could do is give something strong for pain and tell me to follow up with GP. As others, I have other illnesses and sometimes they all kick in at once… like today.
    A few years agi tried FODMAP diet to the letter for two weeks and was about the worst two weeks ever…. explosive diarrhea, pain etc etc.
    Also the mental pain as I lie here and think of all kinds of things…. just about every part of my body hurts…. but for some reason I dont seem to ge able to cry. Love to all of you!

  • DLCogg
    2 years ago

    These articles help me tremendously, if not just to let me know I”M NOT ALONE IN THIS! I’ve experienced all these types of pain. Recently I’ve been having bouts of nausea, that’s kind of a new one for me. It’s related to my GERD, and stress. Less caffeine, less stress, smaller meals, we all know the drill:)
    I definitely agree that unless you are a sufferer, people just judge you as a picky eater (my personal favorite, as if I CHOOSE to not ever eat the delicious pizza and pastries that litter the office break room everyday! I’m a very healthy FODMAPPER)
    Keep up the good work everyone, hang in there for the good days!

  • Becky Oleson moderator
    2 years ago

    I’m so glad these articles are helping you, DLCogg! I think it can be especially difficult for people without IBS to understand what we go through — which makes this community even more important when we just need to vent with others who “get it.” We’re so glad you found us! Becky, team member

  • Holly5757
    2 years ago

    I get the over bloated balloon pain almost every night. I have tried every gas med I can think of to no avail. My doctor told me recently that if nothing works to try charcoal capsules. Have not tried as of yet.
    I also get the nauseous, shakey belly feeling quite often. It is very strange how many different pains that IBS can cause. Unless you are a sufferer, you realy do not know the extent of the pain.

  • LucyB
    11 months ago

    It’s likely a food allergy or intolerance. I have a milk allergy. When I consume milk protein, within 30 minutes I get that balloon feeling, and not long after that, the diarrhea. And the diarrhea can last all night. If I were you, I’d try eliminating things, one by one, from my diet to figure out what is causing it. It could be milk, wheat, egg, or something else.

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