Many people experience some kinds of back pain at some point. Either through over-exercising, injury, sitting in one position for a long period of time, lack of exercise, or during menstruation period for some women. If the back pain is persistent, you may go to see a doctor to examine the source of the pain. However, you might not be able to get a clear answer, and the back pain may come and go with no obvious reason.
The cause of back pain may not show in the X-rays, MRI or CT scan, or not even in a an electromyogram (EMG – nerve and muscle damage), and interestingly, it may come from your gut.
Yes, your intestines may not be working properly and could be contributing to or causing your back pain.
I often talk about gut issues and today is about Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that occur together, including repeated pain in your abdomen and changes in your bowel movements, which may be diarrhea, constipation, or both.
Many of us do not pay much attention to bowel movement, so most people are unaware of what is healthy when it comes to our stool. The ideal frequency of bowel movements is 1 or 2 times per day. The goal is to have the bowels completely emptied. Bowel movements should be soft and easy to pass, with no pain, straining or stool leakage.
I guess more than 9 years ago, I addressed the shape of healthy poops which helped many people understand what type of stool you are having. So, I would like to share the information again. The Bristol Stool Chart shows seven categories of stool. Every person will have different bowel habits, but the important thing is that your stools are soft and easy to pass – like types 3 and 4 below.
Type 1–2 indicate constipation
Type 3–4 are ideal stools as they are easier to pass, and
Type 5–7 may indicate diarrhea and urgency.
If you go to bathroom less than three times a week or more than three times a day, that is not a good sign of healthy bowel movement. However, having diarrhea because of spicy Indian curry from the night before or lumpy stool because of dehydration would not be a serious issue. Digestive problems such as stomach pain, diarrhea, flatulence, bloating and constipation are the most common signs of IBS.
According to Dr. Stephen Wangen, co-founder of IBS Treatment Center in Seattle, WA, if you have one or more of these symptoms for a few months or longer, then you probably have IBS. If you pay close attention to your bowel movement, you may notice that you experience diarrhea or constipation more often without any rational reasons. You get gassy a couple of times a week, or feel mild abdominal pain or minor tummy aches, that is the sign your gut is not working properly.
In addition to bloating and gas, people with IBS often develop extraintestinal symptoms, and lower back pain is one of them. IBS and back pain often are observed together, and in many cases, the IBS is directly responsible for the pain. Abdominal pain during bouts of IBS is most common, but pain can radiate to other areas, including the back. Discomfort caused by the condition might cause a change in posture, which can strain the back. Pressure from bloating also might be a source of distress.
So, if you are experiencing those IBS symptoms and back pain, you need to focus on your gut and treat it first. If you are not sure if you have IBS, try the “Stool Log Lite” App to track down your bowel movement and add notes to describe any discomfort.
Unfortunately, doctors and scientists don’t know the exact cause of IBS, but many experts believe that the gut-brain connection, or the way your brain interacts with your gastrointestinal tract. Stress and anxiety can trigger or worsen symptoms, as can hormone fluctuations and certain food choices.
There is no “cure” for IBS in conventional medicine. However, there are many functional medicine or nephropathy medicine doctors who treated IBS or other digestive problems like Dr. Hyman, Dr. Axe, Dr. Bill Rawls, so, there is a hope. Also, I personally believe that since IBS is seen among small kids and pets, this is something to do with the diet. So, if you are up for non-conventional therapy, I highly recommend a book called “Medical Medium” by Anthony Williams.