Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Colonic Spasm


Irritable bowel syndrome or colonic spasm is a symptom that occurs in various gastrointestinal diseases and is characterized by sudden and severe cramp-like pain. The main cause of developing this type of symptom is the reverse spasm of the colon walls, where the muscles contract strongly and the relaxation phase is delayed. This condition also accompanies a general impact on health, decreased appetite, and digestive disturbances. Gastroenterologists assess the symptoms and determine the causes and treatment of colonic spasms in adults.

About the Disease:

Colonic spasm is often associated with infants, where these spasms result from immature digestion and a lack of necessary enzymes for food digestion. With physiological development, such symptoms disappear.

In adult men and women, colonic spasm is often one of the main symptoms of gastrointestinal diseases. In some cases, there is reverse contraction of the colon muscles without functional disorders. This occurs in patients with congenital abnormalities in the digestive system or those who have undergone surgical interventions on the digestive organs.

  • Colonic spasm is not a single disease entity, and there is no widely accepted classification for it.


The primary indicator of colonic spasm is acute cramp-like pain in the middle of the abdomen. Some patients describe this feeling as pulsating cramps that make them hold their breath.

Additional symptoms, alongside colonic spasms, depend on the underlying condition. Additional symptoms may include:

  • Nausea, leading to vomiting.
  • Bloating.
  • Heartburn.
  • Heaviness in the abdomen.
  • Swelling.
  • Belching air or acidic stomach contents.
  • Longitudinal pains throughout the abdomen.
  • Decreased appetite (significantly reduced).
  • Pains and discomfort on the right side.
  • Hepatic colic.
  • Rumbling in the stomach (abdomen).
  • Diarrhea/constipation.

When affected by liver diseases (cholecystitis, hepatomegaly), skin discoloration and yellowing of the eyes with a degree of jaundice may occur. In case of intestinal infections, an increase in body temperature, tremors, and a general deterioration in health may occur. Colonic spasms are often accompanied by dizziness, headache, acute and escalating weakness, and increased sweating.


Colonic spasms often appear against the background of various acute and chronic gastrointestinal diseases, including:

  • Gastritis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Pancreatitis
  • Gastric ulcer
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Duodenitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Enteritis (small intestinal inflammation)
  • Malabsorption syndrome

Other common causes of colonic spasms include:

  • Parasitic worms
  • Acute respiratory viral infections
  • Viral and bacterial intestinal inflammation
  • Appendicitis
  • Liver inflammation
  • Previous surgical interventions on the digestive organs
  • Formation of tumors in the digestive organs
  • Acute food poisoning
  • Acute intoxication with heavy metals, harmful chemicals found in fertilizers or household cleaners
  • Poisoning with natural and industrial toxic substances
  • Overdose of medications when used improperly
  • Intestinal injuries and chemical burns
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Entry of foreign bodies into the digestive system
  • Alcohol consumption and smoking
  • Dietary violations

In some cases, colon spasms may result from acute initiation due to sudden food intake or consumption of intensely hot food. Additionally, causes may be attributed to high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, and pressure on blood vessels and lymphatic vessels due to the presence of a tumor or mass in the intestines. The link between spasms and the individual’s psychological and emotional state is noted: spasms can occur due to stressful conditions, after strong negative experiences, and in the context of anxiety.


The process of evaluating patients suffering from colonic spasms includes:

  1. Collecting Medical History: The doctor inquires about the patient’s complaints, symptoms, past or current illnesses, and assesses dietary patterns and lifestyle.
  2. General Medical Examination: The doctor evaluates the condition of the skin and mucous membranes, measures temperature, performs palpation and percussion examinations.
  3. Conducting Instrumental Tests and Laboratory Analyses:
  • General blood and urine tests.
  • Stool analysis.
  • Bacterial urine culture.
  • Parasitic worm examination.
  • Chemical blood analysis.
  • X-ray imaging of the digestive organs.
  • Computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy (FGDS).
  • Colonoscopy.

In some cases, sigmoidoscopy and rectal endoscopy may also be performed.


Treatments aim to alleviate symptoms and address the underlying condition. In the initial management of colonic spasms in adults, it is crucial to avoid:

  • Administering painkillers and anti-inflammatories.
  • Applying hot packs to the abdomen.
  • Using heating ointments on the abdominal skin.
  • Providing food and drink.

These measures can mask the clinical symptoms of the disease, leading to the delayed detection of acute surgical conditions (such as or intestinal obstruction), posing a real threat to the patient’s life.

Treatment for diseases causing colonic spasms may involve the use of various medications, surgical procedures, and physical therapy sessions. Medications may include:

  • Laxatives.
  • Antispasmodics.
  • Antibiotics.
  • Anti-inflammatory and pain relievers.
  • Diuretics.
  • Sedative and relaxant medications.

Lifestyle and dietary corrections play a crucial role, with complete avoidance of alcohol consumption and smoking. It is also helpful to reduce the impact of stress factors and avoid conflicts and situations that provoke the person’s anxiety.


There is no specific prevention for colonic spasms. It is advisable to monitor chronic gastrointestinal diseases and avoid self-medication with strong medications or folk remedies, adhering to a healthy lifestyle. In cases of acute diseases of any kind, seeking qualified medical care for diagnosis and appropriate treatment is preferable.


The prognosis and recovery periods depend on the clinical picture of the underlying condition, the severity of the patient’s condition, the frequency and duration of colonic spasms, the patient’s age, and other factors.

Strict adherence to the diet and following the doctor’s instructions is of paramount importance during the rehabilitation period. It is preferable to avoid the following products:

  • Grilled meats, fatty meats and fish, spicy foods, pickles, canned foods, spicy seasonings, smoked foods, unpasteurized dairy products, chocolate, pastries, carbonated mineral water and sodas, cabbage, beans, mushrooms.

(List of medical literature references)

  1. Clinical Gastroenterology / Grigoryev P.A., Yakovenko A.V. – 2004.
  2. Batyrkhanova G.G. Differential diagnosis and approaches to the treatment of abdominal pain syndrome (literature review) // Science and Healthcare. – 2014. – No. 1.
  3. V.T. Ivashkin, E.A. Poluektova. Functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. Moscow: MEDpress, 2013.