By Dr. Shrey Lakhotia, BDS
Constipation and abdominal Pain
Constipation is often associated with abdominal pain and bloating of the stomach.
Abdominal pain can be caused by numerous medical conditions; however, constipation is one of the common causes for it.
1. Fecal Impaction
Fecal impaction refers to the blockage of stool as it nears the anus. It occurs when hardened feces collects near or in the rectum.
This build-up of feces creates pressure which can result in pain in the abdomen. As more feces builds up, this abdominal pain can increase.
The sensory nerves of the rectum and anus degenerate with age, resulting in an inability to gauge when stool is in the rectum. Painful lesions in the rectum and anus can also result in the inhibiting of defecation.
As more stool gathers in the rectum, it becomes a large, hard mass of stool which is almost impossible to pass through the relatively narrow anal opening.
The best way to deal with fecal impaction is to prevent it from happening in the first place. For patients at high risk of constipation, a strict diet should be followed, including adequate fluids, fiber, allowing sufficient time after meals for defecation, and possibly a daily dose of a magnesium supplement.
Once fecal impaction has occurred, the way to relieve constipation and abdominal pain due to impaction is by eliminating accumulated fecal matter.
Enemas work well for this. Sometimes it is necessary to insert a finger in the anus to break up impacted feces. A magnesium laxative like Milk of Magnesia or Epson Salt can also be quite effective, as long as the impaction isn’t too severe.
2. Abdominal pain from bloating
Gas build-up in the intestines can lead to bloating and the associated abdominal pain.
If excess gas is
causing abdominal pain, a good plan is to eliminate or reduce the items
causing gas formation. Here are some of the culprits of gas formation in
• junk foods
• overly hot spicy foods
• fatty foods
• brussels sprouts
Unfortunately, most of the items above are foods that are quite good for us. Eating more slowly and eating more frequent smaller meals can also help.
According to a study published in The Journal of Intensive Care Medicine, a magnesium deficiency doubles the death rate. Plus, there are over 3,500 medical conditions or diseases related to a magnesium deficiency.
Magnesium plays an important role in muscle and nerve function, and sometimes stomach pain can be related back to a shortage of magnesium in the diet.
According to nutritional surveys, around 80% of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diet.
Constipation is also a symptom of a magnesium deficiency. As we learned above, constipation can lead to abdominal pain. Getting adequate magnesium is one of the best ways to treat constipation.
• Magnesium is the most powerful relaxant mineral available. Magnesium can help to loosen up tense bowel muscles, which in turn helps to regulate bowel movements.
• Magnesium draws water into the colon, helping stool to become moist, soft, and easier to eliminate.
Constipation is one of the most common cause of abdominal pain.
However many times persistent abdominal pain can indicate the presence of other diseases. Abdominal pain can be managed by directly treating the pain, or by managing the underlying cause, which in today’s article is constipation.
Magnesium supplements are a healthy way of getting relief from abdominal pain due to magnesium’s role in neuro-muscular contractions.
Also, magnesium has several other health benefits.
As with any over-the-counter remedy, talk with your doctor before starting on a magnesium supplement.
Supplemental magnesium may interfere with certain prescription medications. Those with kidney disease should not take a magnesium supplement unless instructed to do so by their doctor.