Medically reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD, PhD
Back pain and constipation are exceedingly common conditions. In many cases, these two conditions occur at the same time. Constipation is when an individual has less than three bowel movements a week.
Back pain is physical discomfort occurring anywhere on the back or spine, ranging from mild to disabling. But can constipation cause back pain in your body? Keep reading to know.
Can Constipation Cause Back Pain?
While constipation does not generally cause back pain, it may be a side effect of severe back pain. In that sense, constipation can worsen the back pain or contribute to newly experienced discomfort.
As per a study titled “Chronic constipation” published in Cancer Research UK, back pain from constipation occurs when the mass of feces presses on the nerves in the lower back, known as the sacral nerve.
Back pain can also arise from added strain placed on the muscles that support an individual’s lower spine from difficult bowel movements. Constipation makes your intestines swell up due to the built-up stool. Swollen intestines can cause pain in your lower back and lead to massive discomfort.
For some, this back pain could be mild and tolerable. However, others may experience intense discomfort. Wondering how to relieve back pain from constipation? Read on to know.
Tips To Relieve Back Pain From Constipation
- Increase fiber intake
A diet that consists of fried, processed, and sugary food usually contributes to constipation. In most cases, it can be fixed by adjusting eating habits. You can regulate your eating habits by increasing your fiber intake.
These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and seeds. Fiber promotes digestion by keeping things moving in your digestive tract. Legumes and broccoli are ideal ways of adding fiber to your diet.
- Keep yourself hydrated
Back pain arising from constipation is worse when there aren’t enough fluids in your body to ease movements. That is why it is essential to stay hydrated.
Apart from water, apple cider and prune juice can also encourage healthy bowel movements and minimize dehydration. Everyone should try to get 8-10 glasses of water in their body daily.
- Incorporate exercise into your routine
Regular movement of muscles can facilitate bowel motions. This, in turn, can decrease your back pain immensely. Physical exercise boosts activity in your intestines and promotes proper circulation.
Those who can’t do longer workouts should start small with lighter forms of exercise, such as gentle stretches and casual walking. Yoga induces gentle pressure on the ascending and descending colon to encourage gas release.
- Use stool softeners or laxatives
To decrease back pain caused due to constipation, individuals can use stool softeners or laxatives. They will help with constipation and reduce your back pain eventually. However, it is vital to consult a healthcare specialist before consuming any laxatives.
- Apply ice packs or cloth-covered heat packs
If you have chronic back pain from constipation, try applying cloth-covered ice packs or heat packs to your lower back. It helps soothe inflamed muscles and eases the pain.
- Consider alternatives to opioid medications
One of the side effects of consuming opioid medication every day is constipation. More often than not, this constipation is accompanied by back pain. So, consider asking your doctor to transition you to non-opioid medications.
Some common alternatives to these medications are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen, as they may help manage your back pain and prevent other unpleasant side effects of constipation.
- Keep a schedule
Using the bathroom around the same time every day can enhance the chances of your body having regular bowel movements. So, try to keep a fixed time for bowel movements.
Avoiding the temptation to ignore using the washroom because you are busy is vital. Listen to your body and ensure you go to the restroom whenever there is an urge.
Constipation is generally defined as a condition where there is difficulty emptying the bowels. Those who are constipated may have fewer than three bowel movements a week.
The blockage in an individual’s colon or rectum can cause pain extending from the abdomen to the lower back. In such cases, back pain is related to constipation or results from it.
Constipation makes a person’s intestines swell up due to building up stool leading to massive pain and discomfort in the lower back. The good news is that both these conditions are exceedingly common and can be treated.
To relieve back pain from constipation, there are various tips that you can follow. These include staying hydrated, keeping a schedule, boosting fiber intake, using stool softeners, and applying ice packs on the lower back.
Moreover, one can consider alternatives to opioid medications and incorporate exercise into their routines. If these techniques don’t work and your back pain remains, it is ideal to consult a healthcare professional.
7 ways to combat lower back pain due to constipation. The Spine Institute CSR. (2017, March 7). Retrieved June 10, 2022, from https://www.laspine.com/how-to-relieve-constipation-back-pain/
Can constipation cause back pain? Healthcare Associates of Texas. (2021, December 16). Retrieved June 10, 2022, from https://healthcareassociates.com/can-constipation-cause-back-pain/
MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Lower back pain with constipation: Relation, causes, and treatments. Medical News Today. Retrieved June 10, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325663#home-treatments
Sawyers, T. (2019, March 8). Lower back pain and constipation: Is it related? Healthline. Retrieved June 10, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/lower-back-pain-and-constipation#when-to-see-a-doctor