An angry and stressed man lies on his back on a bed with one telephone receiver to his ear and another (connected by the same cord) to his stomach.

Emergency Room Pain

The other day I was speaking with someone about the intense pain that coincides with some IBS symptoms, cramping in particular. They referred to this type of pain as ‘emergency room pain.’ I thought this was great because it was so dead on accurate. I have struggled with extreme nighttime cramping on and off for the last six months. Usually, it hurts, but with some self-care (some stretching, heating pad, medication, tea) I can get it to subside long enough to get some sleep. Once in a while though, the cramping is so painful that we get into ‘Emergency Room Pain’ territory. Excruciating and unrelenting no matter what you do. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Yet, from reading posts on, I can tell that a lot of us go through this. So what do we do and when is it actually time to go to the emergency room?

Emergency room pain

I guess I should start by saying that I haven’t been to the emergency room for this. One night I was putting my clothes on to go but decided I was in too much pain to drive. Perhaps I should have called an ambulance, perhaps not, but the reason I didn’t was because I was embarrassed and being bullheaded. Both embarrassment and bullheadedness can get us into a lot of trouble. I should have gone that night because when my doctor looked at me the next day, he determined that my stomach/ribs were bruised from the duration and intensity of the spasms. It was serious. Whether it was gas or some mystery IBS symptom or something even more serious, I don’t know. This is kind of the important point. Even if we are ‘experts’ on our own bodies and know how to treat ourselves and our illness, we are not doctors and cannot truly know what is causing this intense, make you want to pass out, type of pain. When it is this bad, the only responsible thing to do is get yourself help.

How do you know when it is time to get yourself immediate help?

Unfortunately, there is no physiological gauge to tell us when it is time. We all have different corresponding symptoms, different body types, different ages, and different pain thresholds. Therefore, the only thing we can do is listen to our bodies. I mean really listen, don’t argue with it. That’s what I have a tendency to do. I listen, I hear what my body is saying and then I proceed to argue. It’s not that bad I say. It could be worse. It’s just gas. YOU ARE BEING A BABY. Not good. I think we all know what emergency room pain feels like. So when it arises, perhaps this is the best course of action. I will say that I think we should practice self-care before making the decision. Try what has worked for you to ease this type of stomach issue and if the pain does not subside please see a doctor. Self-diagnosis, in this case, could be dangerous, as we never really know what is going on until we get a professional opinion.

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