If you’re having trouble passing stool on a regular basis, you may have constipation. Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week.

The blockage in your colon or rectum can cause a dull pain that extends from your abdomen to your lower back. Sometimes, back pain caused by a tumor or infection could have constipation as a side effect.

In other cases, lower back pain may not be related to constipation. Learning more about the causes of these conditions can help you determine if they’re related.

Constipation can be caused by numerous factors including your diet, physical activity, and stress. Minor constipation is commonly traced back to diet. Common causes of constipation include:

If the pain in your lower back is dull and you have constipation, it’s possible that your back pain and constipation are related. The backup of stool in your colon or rectum could be causing the discomfort in your back.

If your back pain is more severe, it could be due to a condition unrelated to your constipation such as:

If you’re experiencing severe back pain, be sure to consult with your doctor.

Treatment for constipation usually consists of dietary or lifestyle changes. You can also use laxatives or suppositories for short-term treatment.

Here are some common lifestyle changes that can help relieve constipation:

  • Add fiber to your diet. Whole grain breads and vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, and green peas will provide your body with the fiber it needs. Fiber will increase the ability of your stool to pass through your intestines.
  • Increase water intake. Being dehydrated can contribute to your constipation. Dry stool can be hard to pass. Try to drink 64 ounces of water a day.
  • Get regular exercise. Regular exercise will increase the use of your muscles. It also boosts activity in your intestines. If you’ve had prior issues with exercising, consult your doctor before starting a workout regimen.
  • Keep a schedule. If you try to use the bathroom around the same time every day, it increases the likelihood of your body having regular bowel movements.
  • While you’re treating the constipation, consider using over-the-counter pain medication and heating pads to relieve your back pain. If the constipation is successfully treated and the back pain remains, see your doctor about diagnosing the cause of your lower back discomfort.

If your symptoms are severe or do not go away after home-treatment, you should see a doctor.

If you’re experiencing any of the following, consult a doctor as soon as possible:

Dull lower back pain can be a symptom of constipation. Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet and your water intake will most likely help with your constipation. Over-the-counter laxatives and painkillers can often relieve your symptoms.

If you’re experiencing extreme pain, blood in your stool, or other worrying symptoms, you should visit your doctor to discuss your symptoms.