Colon spasms are a symptom of intestinal distress. You may have colon spasms as an acute reaction to an infection or a food intolerance. Some people have chronic colon spasms related to an underlying condition, such as IBS.
Colon spasms are muscle spasms in your colon (large intestine). A spasm is a sudden, spontaneous contraction of the muscles. Your colon is the long, coiled tube where food is slowly condensed into poop at the end of the digestive process. It’s lined with muscles that help move poop through the passage until it can be excreted. If these muscles seize and spasm, it can interfere with the natural movement of your bowels.
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You may feel a sudden cramp in your abdomen, particularly on the lower left side. You may also experience:
Colon spasms are a symptom. They may be a temporary reaction to something you ate, or they may be related to a more chronic gastrointestinal disease. They are a very common symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Even though not everyone with IBS has colon spasms, they are common enough that “spastic colon” has become a nickname for IBS. All of the complaints listed above that frequently occur with colon spasms are also frequent complaints of people with IBS.
Some people with chronic colon spasms may be candidates for medication to ease their symptoms. However, pharmaceuticals often have undesirable side effects and don’t address the underlying causes of your symptoms. For this reason, healthcare providers tend to approach the treatment of colon spasms conservatively, beginning with lifestyle changes and natural home remedies. They may recommend:
If conservative treatments don’t help, your healthcare provider may prescribe medication for your symptoms. Medications may include:
If you have colon spasms often, seek help to get diagnosed. Locating the cause of your problem is the first step toward relief. Medical testing can help confirm or rule out certain medical conditions, treat an infection or identify food intolerance. You may have an underlying disease that needs attention, or you may simply need to begin a lifelong journey toward overall wellness. Healthcare can help.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Colon spasms can feel like your body is working against you. The muscle contractions are involuntary, often painful and disruptive to healthy bowel activity. Relief lies in getting back on the same page with your gut so that you can address its concerns while helping to calm it down. This means paying attention to what bothers your colon and what makes it feel better, whether that’s a food, habit or stress factor. It may also mean seeking a professional diagnosis so that you can get the personalized treatment you need.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/14/2022.
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