Splenic flexure syndrome is a condition that causes gas to become trapped inside flexures — or curves — within your colon. Your splenic flexure is in the sharp bend between your transverse colon and descending colon in your upper abdomen. It’s situated next to your spleen.
While gas is normal, splenic flexure syndrome can cause excessive gas and discomfort. This condition, considered a chronic digestive disorder, is thought to be a sub-type of irritable bowel syndrome.
General discomfort, specifically in your upper left abdominal area, is a common symptom of splenic flexure syndrome. However, other symptoms you may experience with this condition include:
- feeling of fullness
- abdominal distention, or bloating
- excessive gas or flatulence
- sharp abdominal spasms or cramping
- chest pain
While symptoms from splenic flexure syndrome may not be life-threatening, this condition can cause severe pain. If your symptoms become unbearable or worsen over time, seek immediate medical attention.
Splenic flexure syndrome occurs when gas builds up or becomes trapped in your colon. Thought to be the primary cause of this condition, gas accumulation causes trapped air to push on the inner lining of your stomach and digestive tract. As a result, pressure can build on surrounding organs causing pain and discomfort. Passing gas can help to relieve the pain, but that can become very difficult with this condition.
Other causes of splenic flexure syndrome include:
- swallowing air
- gas-forming foods
- chewing gum
- food poisoning
- excessive alcohol consumption
- complications from abdominal surgery
- gastrointestinal disorders
Before recommending treatment, your doctor will rule out other cardiac and gastrointestinal conditions. Your physician will conduct a full examination of your symptoms and review your current diet and medical history. There is no specific test used to diagnose splenic flexure syndrome. However, there are a number of diagnostic procedures doctors can use to find the source of your pain. Some of the more common diagnostic tests include:
- barium enema test to examine your lower GI tract
- abdominal CT scan
- abdominal MRI
- X-ray imaging of the large intestine
There’s no specific treatment for this condition, but with lifestyle changes and proper diet you can improve and resolve your symptoms. In some cases, splenic flexure syndrome improves and goes away on its own from flatulence or consistent bowel movements.
Your doctor may recommend laxatives and other digestive aids to reduce constipation and improve digestion. Your doctor may also recommend antacid medication to relieve bloating and stomach pain by reducing excessive gas production.
Modifying your diet can prevent symptoms from splenic flexure syndrome. People suffering from this digestive disorder follow a diet excluding foods that may trigger gas and bloating. Common gas-inducing foods to avoid include:
- fatty meats
- Brussels sprouts
- processed cereals
Splenic flexure syndrome is a digestive disorder that causes gas to accumulate in your colon. While it’s not considered a life-threatening condition, splenic flexure syndrome can cause severe pain and discomfort if left untreated. Though there is no specific treatment plan to prevent or cure this condition, lifestyle and diet changes, and increased awareness can improve your symptoms.
If your symptoms worsen or don’t improve over an extended period of time, schedule a visit with your doctor. This may indicate a more serious digestive disorder or illness.