Constipation is defined as infrequent bowel movements or difficulty passing bowel movements. Normal bowel movements usually occur one to two times a day. With constipation, you may experience only three bowel movements a week.
Additional symptoms of constipation include:
- hard or lumpy stool
- pain passing stool
- feeling of fullness
- straining to pass fecal matter
Often, constipation swells the intestines with retained fecal matter. This can lead to discomfort in both the abdomen and back. This type of back pain is typically reported as a dull, aching type of discomfort.
Many circumstances can lead to constipation. In some cases, the primary cause of constipation can’t be determined. Possible causes of constipation include:
- low-fiber diet
- lack of physical activity
- certain medications
- bowel obstruction
- colon or rectal cancer
Constipation caused by back pain
Sometimes a condition, such as an infection or tumor pressing on the spinal cord, can lead to back pain. Constipation may be a side effect of the condition.
Back pain caused by fecal impaction
It’s possible for fecal impaction to cause low back pain. Fecal impaction occurs when a piece of dry stool is stuck in the colon or rectum. The pressure in the rectum or colon can result in pain radiating to the back or abdomen.
The first line of treatment for constipation is changing what you eat. Try adding more fiber and water to your diet to help soften your stool and make it easier to pass.
If constipation occurs after starting a new diet or taking a new medication, call your doctor. They can help you adjust the diet or medication or give the OK to stop it altogether.
Some common treatments for constipation include the following:
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity promotes proper circulation and keeps your bowels healthy.
- Increase your water consumption. See how much water you should drink per day.
- Add more fiber to your diet. Check out our list of 22 high-fiber foods.
- Begin a regular bowel movement schedule. Here’s how.
Over-the-counter stool softeners, suppositories, and laxatives can help with temporary constipation. You can also try natural stool softeners and laxatives. For cases of chronic constipation, your doctor can help treat the underlying cause.
If resolving your constipation doesn’t greatly reduce or eliminate your back pain, chances are they’re unrelated. Talk to your doctor about evaluating your back pain.
With a change of diet and increased water consumption, constipation often resolves on its own. Sometimes when constipation is resolved, back pain lessens or disappears. If not, talk to your doctor specifically about treatment to relieve your back pain.
If your constipation and back pain are severe, see your doctor as soon as possible. They can help you find relief.