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Lower Back Pain and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Is there a connection between back pain and mines syndrome? Researchers have long claimed that IBS may be due to abnormal function of the nerves and intestinal muscles. No clue or explanation has been given as to why this damage may have occurred. To my knowledge there is not enough evidence to support this assumption. What's more, I have never seen, heard or read of any study specifically conducted to test this hypothesis. Because of my own observations of my own IBS symptoms, I tend to believe and support this hypothesis.

Some of us who suffer from Impaired Bowel Syndrome have worked for years, without success, to eliminate the often debilitating effects of this mysterious disorder. Generally those who suffer have spent a lot of time and money, having gone through testing after test only to find that nothing is conclusive.

Often after years of expensive diagnostic procedures and studies, patients are told that nothing is wrong with them. Their symptom complaints were dismissed as delusional or more precisely included in medical, psychosomatic terms. But with more and more patients complaining of the same list of symptoms, the medical community has been forced, at least in part, to acknowledge the disease as something more than a hypothondrial delusional symptom.

So what can we expect of IBS? Is it a condition or disease in and of itself? Or is IBS a condition caused by or symptomatic of some physical, neurological or possibly psychological problem that has not yet been detected or not diagnosed as relative to IBS? I find this to be a more reasonable conclusion and will give some insight into my personal belief that IBS is a secondary condition and not a condition of its own.

For many years doctors have been proposing a concept of secondary conditions related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Unfortunately, they have not been able to document any evidence to suggest what may be the main cause of IBS. Moreover, I believe there is not just one cause, but several reasons, all with the same secondary symptoms, which form what is known as IBS.

Please do not think that my intention is to state that IBS is unrealistic, or that it is psychosomatic in nature. I know from painful experience, the condition and symptoms of IBS are very real. I would also like to say that due to the number of reported cases, the medical community has had to reevaluate their approach when dealing with patients complaining of symptoms such as Irritable Bowel-like Syndrome. I will only state what I myself have concluded about possible causes for IBS that the medical profession may ignore.

I would also like to release for the consideration that IBS, with a large list of symptoms, may be a symptom of a single underlying cause. I believe, in my case, this is a valid assumption. I have not been able to get any doctors to agree with me, at least until I have taken a position on the record.

Before I go any further, I think it's a good idea to review a partial list of symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS may be characterized by a combination of any or all of the following symptoms:

o Abdominal discomfort or pain, usually in the lower abdomen

o Changes in bowel habits

o Repeated diarrhea or diarrhea, constipation, or both. Can be mixed or replaced.

o Inflatable

of Heartburn

o Mual

o Abdominal perfection

o Feeling urgently needed to clear intestines

o Feel "incomplete"

o Low back pain

o Headache

o Fatigue

o Muscle pain

o Sleep disturbance

o Sexual dysfunction

It is increasingly believed that the symptoms of IBS are caused by abnormal nerve and muscle function. More and more I personally agree with this as a valid and reasonable perception of at least one of the causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. With some personal observations, I hope to shed some light on why I believe this is a possible cause for IBS patients. Unfortunately, what I believe to be the cause for my particular IBS brand, will most certainly not be a diagnosis for all IBS cases.

I think those of us who have had Bowel Syndrome tend to minimize our symptoms and pain. We have been led to believe that apart from changing our dietary habits and exercising there is nothing we can do because there is no cure. Many people suffer from depression for many years before receiving medical attention. At that time, and I included myself in this group, we might have consciously reduced or even ignored some of the lower symptoms that cause IBS, focusing only on the ones that caused the most pain and discomfort.

Even worse, we are less likely to bring symptoms to a doctor's attention with the assumption that it is just another aspect of our complex disorder. This can be a dangerous scenario for anyone suffering from IBS. We may ignore ongoing symptoms that have gotten stronger or newer symptoms that seem to be related simply because we are discouraged because we are told that no one can do it.

Doing such things can cause life-threatening symptoms. Symptoms of a condition that, unlike IBS, can be treated if caught within a short time. Things like colon cancer, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, etc., may be missed because we want to ignore the symptoms of IBS after many doctor visits.

My story about IBS started over 20 years ago when I was 26 years old. While helping to lift the heavy-burning iron stove from the back of the pickup truck, others lost their grip and the load shifted all the way down the hill behind me. I felt my back give way when the kitchen crashed to the ground at my feet. I know I have a serious injury. I can't stand from a 90-degree position to the point where I'm fast. I had to pull myself out by using my hands and arms at the pickup.

Being 26 and stubborn and thinking that I was invincible, I had my wife help me go home and sleep, not bother to go to the emergency room. I had a few pain killers who felt enough pain to allow me to sleep. When I woke up in the morning I was shocked because I couldn't feel my feet. They are both cold and touch-sensitive. I can move it, I can't feel it. After about 30 minutes the feeling began to return to my feet and by that time I knew it was time to go to the doctor.

After the examination and x-ray what the doctor said was not pleasant to hear. He told me I had two options. One was to go to a surgeon and undergo fusion surgery on some of my lower lumbar vertebrae because the disc between them was compressed badly. He mentioned that having this type of surgery would reduce my physical movement by 30% or more. At the best time, he explained, the surgery was about 40% effective.

My other choice, he told me, is time ... time to let my body try to heal itself. He explained that I may not be as good as before the accident, but with time my body should heal itself. He told me that inflammation that causes pain and partial paralysis should be minimized. At the age of 26 losing 30% or more of my mobility is an unthinkable choice. At least the second option offers little hope for recovery. She gave me muscle relaxants and pain pills and that was it.

I believe this doctor ... we are best friends. We have good personal and professional relationships. I brought it in his speech. By today's medical standards, her medical advice may not hold water, but over the past 20 years, there has been a very good perception of my problem.

For the next 6 months, I would wake up with cold feet, numbness and everyday, but as she said, the symptoms gradually improved. I'm very focused on improving my back injury; I didn't pay attention to other things, the small things that happened were annoying.

The first and most common symptom was a change in my bowel habit. Not a big change, but it doesn't seem like a daily move, now again and again, and it takes a bit of effort. But with back issues, it looks smaller than ever and for many years seems to be the only symptom. My back kept getting better but my gut never went back to normal.

I was always a big person, in 1986 at the age of 26: I weighed about 220 pounds, standing 6 feet tall. Slowly, my weight started to rise. I attributed my initial weight to reducing physical activity during the first year or two of my back problems. By the end of the second year, my ability and physical activity were almost back to normal. I learned to deal with the pain and my feet were numb. I can work well. Occasionally, the pain in my back becomes like I can't function in my "new" fashion, and usually only lasts a day or two. I have now added 70 pounds to my weight without any real explanation.

It is only in the last few years (over 20 that have passed since my back injury) that I began to consider the original injury associated with my gut and stomach problems. Because I believe there is little I can do to correct the situation, I have done so and I can manage my mental illness. I did it so well that the pain in my back started to worsen until my leg ache became numb. Not that this is happening all the time, it is only occasional, but the disease is getting worse.

It is only now that back pain is impossible to ignore that I realize the cycle of events that have occurred. Now as I see my feet become weaker on a more regular basis, I've also noticed an increase in my IBS symptoms. The more frequent and painful symptoms seem to start with chronic constipation, lasting for several days. This is followed by fatigue of gas, headache, bloating, acid digestion, heartburn and diarrhea that eventually explodes. Along with other symptoms, all are associated with a cycle that I now believe is directly related to some kind of nerve injury resulting from my original back injury.

I went to a neurosurgeon and was diagnosed with hard disk compression and degeneration and spinal stenosis in the lower lumbar region. The treatment is yet to be mapped, but I now have at least one doctor who agrees that many, if not all, of my symptoms can be directly linked to the neurological dysfunction caused by my current spinal condition.

If you have a back injury, or have IBS with lower back pain, it may be prudent to have a spine scan, to see if back problems may be causing your IBS symptoms. It is a practical reason that if there is injury to the spine or lower back where the nerves control the function of the lower bowl, it may also be intestinal dysfunction. With intestinal dysfunction, the development of symptoms in the logical sequence of the ducts to the upper respiratory tract will be a very reasonable scenario.

If you have IBS and low back pain, you will not lose anything and everything to gain by spinal examination. At least you may know that there is no problem with your spine thus eliminating another source.


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