What Causes Bowel Spasms?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2019
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Uncontrollable muscle contractions can be an uncomfortable and painful experience, but when these spasms occur in internal organs like the intestines, the effects may take an even greater toll. In many cases, these unpleasant sensations are just normal sporadic bodily reactions. Some underlying conditions, however, may feature bowel spasms as a prominent symptom. These include ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and emotional or physical stress. Short-term influences might range from unhealthy nutritional habits to infections.

The inner bowel muscles must necessarily contract in order to move waste through the body. Sometimes, though, these contractions occur in the absence of needed waste removal. During these occurrences, the spasms are often quite noticeable and painful.

If these bouts are infrequent, normal nerve misfirings are the likely culprit of bowel spasms. Every individual will likely experience involuntary twitches or movements in some part of the body, and the bowels are no exception. Certain factors like stress and spicy foods may exacerbate these effects. A bowel blockage could also hinder proper muscular function, as could an infection brought about by a parasite like blastocystitis hominis.


Such factors might also lead to the development of a more chronic condition called irritable bowel syndrome. This condition — featuring pain, bloating, and abnormal bowel movements — is one of the chief causes of spasms. The precise origins of the disease are often unknown. While frequent irritable bowel syndrome may be a precursor to cancer in some cases, bowel spasms themselves are generally not a common cancer-associated symptom.

Ulcers can cause a similar result. Specifically, ulcerative colitis is a condition that occurs due to raw spots in the intestinal area, often due to poor eating habits. The resulting open, raw sores can influence muscular efficiency along the intestinal walls, resulting in bowel spasms. A tell-tale sign of this disorder is bloody stools.

Just like other muscles, the muscles in the bowel are also vulnerable to injury or stress. A strained muscle will often twitch and otherwise move abnormally due to inflammation. Even emotional stress or anxiety can adversely affect muscles all over the body, including the intestines.

Since bowel spasms are usually a symptom rather than an isolated condition, treatment of the underlying disorder will likely prove most effective. Prescription drugs may help, and a specific line of pharmaceuticals called antispasmodics are often recommended. Muscle relaxers could work as well. In more severe cases, surgery may serve as another option. As for self-treatment, an individual may wish to curtail stress and bad nutritional habits like lack of fiber.


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Post 5

I have found a connection between bowel spasms and my being hypothyroid. From what I have read, they can't pinpoint why. Since your thyroid hormones affect your metabolism, I think it has to do with that. These sessions are debilitating, and may or may not include actual BM's. Just extremely painful spasms that come in waves like labor, and tighten and quiver into my anus. I get faint ones, but sometimes they are so strong. It is just horrible. The medication bentyl usually helps,but at times they are just unstoppable torture.

Post 4

Does anyone here ever get bowel spasms during your period? I know that I have uterine cramps during this time, but for some reason, I also get intestinal spasms that are quite debilitating.

I always feel like I need to go defecate, but I don't. It's a combination of bloating and cramping, and it is often so severe that I have to leave work.

I don't know what causes this, and I have a feeling that normal bowel spasm treatments would not work for this. I'm sure it's related to my period somehow, but I don't know what I can do about it.

Post 3

Sometimes, the food that I eat gives me bowel spasms. I tend to shy away from Japanese restaurants, because just about every one I've ever eaten at has caused me to have these spasms afterward.

I don't know if I'm allergic to teriyaki sauce, mushrooms, or something else that is common among these restaurants, but it never fails. About half an hour after eating at one, I get spasms so painful that I have to lie down. I start to get hot flashes, and I break out into a sweat.

Post 2

@healthy4life – I think that bowel spasms are just those movements that you feel when you need to go defecate. However, if you don't need to, then the spasms seem really weird.

I used to get bowel spasms when I was in school. I stayed nervous and upset most of the time, and my intestines suffered.

Sometimes, I would feel really bloated, and when the spasm would hit, I knew that diarrhea was soon to follow. Often, the spasms continued for about an hour, and they were so painful that they made me nauseous.

Post 1

What are some bowel spasm symptoms? Does a spasm feel like a regular muscle cramp, or is it nauseating? I'm curious, because I've never experienced anything like this in my intestines.

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