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Can Constipation Cause Back Pain? Experts Weigh In

Constipation can be frustrating, but could it be causing your back pain? Here is what you need to know according to medical professionals.

Can Constipation Cause Back Pain? Experts Weigh In


It happens to all of us. You use the bathroom regularly and then one day, it’s harder to go. Maybe it's stress, maybe it's something you ate or something you're not eating. Your digestive system feels a little off and you're having infrequent bowel movements. And then your back starts to hurt. But does constipation cause back pain? Here’s what you need to know and what the experts have to say.

Can constipation cause back pain?

Dr. Lizzie Sobel of Wholesome Healing Chiropractic says that constipation can cause pain that extends through the back and spinal cord. “Impacted or slow-moving fecal matter in the digestive tract, colon, or rectum, can cause excessive pressure on abdominal organs and muscles of the lower back and pelvis.”

She adds, “Straining to have a bowel movement, especially not in a physiological squatting position, can also cause pain in your lower back and pelvis. It can also work the other way around. A low back or pelvic floor injury can also cause pain or dysfunction that in turn can cause constipation.”

But the good news is that the pain of fecal impaction doesn’t last forever. According to Dana Peters, RD, the pain should go away after a bowel movement. However, if pain and constipation last more than a few days, you may want to discuss treatment options with your doctor.

person holding their stomach in pain iStock

What part of your back hurts with constipation?

Dr. Sobel says, “Almost any part of your lower back or pelvis can be uncomfortable when you are constipated. You may also feel pain in the front of your abdomen or diaphragm that wraps around your entire torso to your lower back.”


She adds that back pain tied to constipation such as a dull aching feeling, may not show in the same place for everyone. Bowels distended because of constipation can also put pressure on the sciatic nerve. So keep that in mind if you suffer from sciatica. But Peters notes that most of the time that pain will land in the low to mid-back.

How to get rid of constipation fast?

Peters says the quickest way to get rid of constipation is fiber, fluid and movement. “Add a bit of each to your day and that should hopefully do the trick! Peaches, prunes, plums, and berries tend to be pretty effective for a lot of people. Try mixing up a smoothie with fruit and veggies for some quick relief.”

However, that’s not the only way to get rid of constipation. Dr. Sobel suggests allowing your pelvic floor to relax. “Try using a Squatty Potty or elevating your legs on a step stool. Try exhaling slowly as if you are blowing bubbles through a bubble wand when passing a bowel movement.”

The chiropractor also says that chiropractic treatments, magnesium citrate, drinking water and physical activity such as going for a walk can help relieve constipation. You may also want to consider taking stool softeners. Just read the box so you know the side effects first.

woman sitting in a chair holding her back in pain iStock


What should you do if you haven’t had a bowel movement in a few days?


If you experience constipation for more than a few days, Dr. Sobel advises contacting your doctor. “Please seek medical attention for an enema or suppository to help in the short term so you can discuss this concern with your medical provider.”

How often are you supposed to have a bowel movement?

Ideally, we should all be going at least once a day. “So if you skip a day, that should be a sign that you need to be taking better care of your digestive health in general,” explains Dr. Sobel. Symptoms of constipation include irregular bowel movements as well as uncomfortable ones.

Is there any way to prevent constipation?

Sometimes we do things that lead to constipation without even knowing it. “Generally speaking, ensuring your kid is eating enough fiber (aka fruits, veggies, and whole grains), drinking enough water, and getting enough movement should keep them pretty regular,” says Peters. “I know it can be tricky to get fruits and veggies in kids though so keep it fun! Try smoothies, cut fruits and veggies into fun shapes with cookie cutters, and let them choose fruits or veggies they'd like from the grocery store.”



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