a couple of weeks ago
constipation and back pain

Do you feel the strain while going to the bathroom? If so you need to do something about it as constipation could be the cause of your back pain. 

There's nothing more frustrating is there? 

You're sat on the throne desperate to do your business yet your bowels just won't comply. 

And the longer it goes on for the more frustrated you become. ​

Your stomach hurts and you feel bloated, uncomfortable and irritable. 

It also zaps you of energy and makes you feel lethargic.

Yet when the big day finally arrives it's not always the cause for celebration it should be.

Because the strain of going can be so painful it can make your eyes water. 

Seriously forget childbirth, try taking your first poo in a week! (just kidding ladies). 

However while we all experience these pains and frustrations from the odd bout of constipation, if you find yourself constipated on a more frequent basis then you need to do something about it.

Because believe it or not all that straining and not being able to rid your​ body of waste could be what is making your back hurt. 

Can Constipation Cause Back Pain?

causes of constipation

Being constipated is probably not the first place you look when you are trying to find the cause of your lower back pain.

But it might just be the one thing that's triggering it.

Now one-off cases of mild constipation may not be anything to worry about.

But if you suffer from constipation regularly or have chronic constipation then you need to take notice.​

Because being constipated like this can cause back pain in two different ways:

  • The blockage in your intestines puts your spinal discs, nerves and lower back under increasing pressure.
  • Forcing you to strain as you're trying to go causes even more pressure on your back which can lead to protruding discs that press on your nerves and leads to pain. 

A Blockage in Your Intestines

When you become constipated there is a blockage in your intestines that stops the stools from passing through as normal.

However just because you can't go to the toilet doesn't mean your body stops producing waste that it needs to get rid of.

So you end up with a backlog of stools in your intestines that resemble the M25 during rush hour!

"Ah man, it's total gridlock"

This backlog will start to affect you as it will add pressure and strain onto your spinal discs, nerves and lower back​.

And as the 'poo queue' gets longer and longer​ the more this pressure builds.

Which results in lower back pain that can make you feel really uncomfortable.​

And the longer your constipation goes on for the worse this back pain will get.

So you need to unblock those pipes!​

Straining on the Throne

When we are sat down on the toilet our spinal discs are under twice the amount of pressure that they are when we are standing up.

This is because when we sit these discs are compressed and squeezed and they can't take in the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy.​

Which can make sitting a surprisingly hazardous activity!​

And even more so when you are constipated.​

Because being constipated makes your stools hard to pass which forces you to strain with all your might when trying to do a number 2.

Straining constipation

We've all been there right?

In fact sometimes you put so much effort into it you expect to wake up with a six-pack stomach the following morning!

But this straining is terrible because it adds even more pressure on your already pressurised discs.

And this can cause the discs to protrude and press onto your nerves.

Which as anyone who has experienced nerve pain will know is an absolute disaster.

So you need to avoid the strain if you want to avoid the pain.​

Why Do You Become Constipated?

It can be hard to pinpoint exactly what is causing your constipation because there are many different reasons that you can become constipated.

These include:​

  • A lack of activity.
  • Changes in your diet.
  • Eating too many dairy products.
  • Stress.
  • Travelling (especially through different time zones).
  • Taking certain types of painkillers (especially opioids).
  • Taking anti-depressants.
  • Pregnancy
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome and problems with your digestive system.
  • Other serious medical issues such as Parkinsons disease, diabetes and having an underactive thyroid.

Quite a long list of potential culprits.

So if you recognise that any of these apply to you then you need to address them.​

How To Cure Constipation

How to cure constipation

Relief!

Ok so by now you know that if you get regular bouts of constipation you really need to do something about it.

Not only to prevent back pain but also to keep your body healthy and functioning as it should.

So try implementing a few of the following tips to get things flowing again!

​Eat More Fiber

​Increasing your fiber intake is a great way to get rid of constipation.

This will both increase the bulk and consistency of your bowel movements which makes it easier to poo.

And as it's so easy to fall into the trap of eating too many processed foods a switch to a high fiber diet should make a big difference to most people.​

So to increase your fiber intake try to add some of the following foods to your daily diet:​

  • Fruits such as apples, pears, plums, apricots, berries, and prunes.
  • Vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, beans and spinach.
  • Whole-grain bread and cereals (especially bran).
  • Nuts such as almonds and walnuts.
  • Seeds such as flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds.

This will get your bowels moving regularly in no time.

Infographic care of Positive Healthwellness.

Eat Probiotic Yoghurts

An imbalance between good and bad bacteria in your gut can lead to constipation.

So a good way to get and maintain a healthy balance is to add probiotic yoghurts to your diet.

These have been found to increase the consistency of your stools while also making your bowel movements more regular.

So try eating a probiotic yoghurt every day to get relief from constipation.

Just make sure you pick one that contains active live cultures to get the real benefits.​

Drink Plenty of Water

Being dehydrated can cause constipation as it makes your stools hard, dry and difficult to pass.

So it's vital that you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the day.​

Try to aim for between 8-10 cups of water to keep you on the straight and narrow.

And avoid alcohol and caffeine when constipated as these can cause you to become even more dehydrated.​

Drink a Strong Black Coffee

Now this kinda runs contrary to the 'avoid caffeine' advice in the previous section.

However for some people a strong black coffee can really help to get the bowels moving again.

That's certainly the case for me after my morning coffee anyway!

Coffee has this effect because it stimulates the muscles in your digestive system which jump starts the whole process.

Just be sure to limit yourself to 1-2 cups of coffee per day to avoid dehydrating yourself.

And don't add milk as dairy can be another cause of constipation.​

Stay Away From Dairy Products

​We all love a bit of milk and cheese right?

And dairy products are great for you in so many ways like providing you with calcium and giving you strong bones.

Meet Daisy the colon blocker

However they can also cause constipation in some people.​

Now dairy may not be a problem for everyone but it may be causing you constipation without you even realising it.

This is because dairy products contain lactose.

And if you are lactose intolerant as many people are consuming dairy can lead to excessive gas, bloating and constipation.

So to make sure dairy isn't the cause of your constipation try completely avoiding it for a couple of weeks.

If you become regular again in that time it may just have been the dairy products that were the problem.​

Get Some Exercise

A big cause of constipation is when people live a life that is too sedentary.

Too much sitting around and not enough exercise can cause muscles to weaken and this includes your intestinal muscles.

So if you are suffering from a bout of constipation make an effort to get yourself active again.

Go for a walk or a run or a swim or a cycle.

stay active

This will strengthen your muscles and ​get your internal organs working and moving again including your bowels.

​Also yoga is great for keeping your internal organs healthy and working well too.

​For a full list of exercises you can do safely as someone with chronic back pain click here.

Don't Hold It!

I've never understood why people decide not to act on the urge to go to the toilet.

Maybe it's a case of not wanting to poo in a public bathroom but by not listening to your body's urges you are increasing your chances of ending up constipated.

Don't fight the urge!

This is because the longer you hold it the harder the stool will become and this will make it harder and more painful to eventually pass.

Also as the urge to go passes your body won't give you another signal to go again until much later.

By which time you'll have a backlog of waste that needs to come out.

And by holding it regularly your body will start to send the signal to go less frequently which will increase the risk of your constipation becoming chronic.

So if you need to take a shit, take a shit!​

Use a Step Stool

This may feel a bit weird at first but it can really help your bowels to relax and do their thing.

Try resting your feet on a small stool so that your knees are above your hips.

use a step stool to cure constipation

The book is optional.

This gets your hips and pelvis in the optimum 'squat' position for a bowel movement.

Which will send a strong signal to your body about what your intentions are and make it more likely it will comply! 

Take a Herbal Laxative

Now one of the first courses of action for people with constipation may be to go to the drugstore to get some laxatives.

However these contain chemicals that can cause harmful side-effects such as drowsiness and nausea and they are not good for you if you use them long-term.

So try a herbal laxative instead.

These are natural as they are made from plant extracts and they help to soften your stools and push them through your colon.

Now there are plenty of options to go for and a good one to try is flax seed oil.

Taking a spoonful of this oil daily helps to lubricate your intestines which makes it easier for the stools to pass through the colon.​

​And it also contains Omega 3 which will help to soothe your digestive system.

Baking Soda

Baking soda can be a great aid to get rid of your constipation.

It's a bicarbonate so when you take it it helps to expel any excess gas (from both ends!).

This will help to relieve the pressure in your abdomen and helps your stools to pass through more easily.

Just add one teaspoon to a 1/4 cup of warm water and down in one.

Then get ready for some interesting noises!​

Prune Juice

​Prunes and prune juice have been used for decades as a constipation reliever.

They work great as a natural laxative because they are very high in fiber.

And they also contain sorbitol which softens your stools making them easier to pass.

So try drinking one glass of prune juice in the morning and another one in the evening.

It's not the nicest of juices but it'll get your insides moving again that's for sure!​

A Word of Warning

​In most cases the back pain that comes from constipation shouldn't be too much of a cause for concern.

It will be a numb, dull ache rather than anything more troubling.

However if your back pain feels more severe than that it may be a sign of a more serious issue and you should get it checked out with your doctor.

Especially if the pain is accompanied by a tingling or numbness in your legs and groin area.​

This is also the case if you notice blood in your stools.​

After all it's better to be safe than sorry.​

Rounding Up

​Constipation is an irritation that everyone experiences from time to time.

However if you get constipated regularly it can lead you to develop lower back pain.

So you need to do something about it.​

​By trying out a few of the methods in this article and by making a couple of subtle changes to your lifestyle you can ensure you remain regular and healthy.

And this will not only be good for your back pain, it's also great for your general health and well-being too.

So don't suffer the strain.

Be the king of your throne again instead!​

Resources used in researching this article:​

https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/constipation-back-pain-related/​

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20452199,00.html#a-common-problem-0

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318694.php​

http://everydayroots.com/constipation-remedies​

https://www.wikihow.com/Relieve-Constipation-Quickly-and-Naturally​

Daniel

A 30-something painter and decorator, psychology graduate, and veteran of 5 spinal surgeries. Looking to explore the physical, psychological and emotional effects of living with chronic low back pain.

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