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Colon spasms are involuntary contractions involving the intestines, a condition that can cause pain, cramping, and frequent bathroom emergencies. A medical condition known as irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is the most common cause of colon spasms, although other factors may cause this symptom as well. Chronic constipation, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease can lead to the development of spasms in the colon. Other medical conditions that can lead to this symptom include endometriosis, bacterial infections, or bowel obstructions. Although there is no cure for chronic spasms of the colon, diagnosis and treatment of any underlying health issues can often help to lessen the severity and frequency of the symptoms.
Irritable bowel syndrome is the most frequently diagnosed cause of colon spasms. The exact cause of IBS is not completely understood, but symptoms can usually be managed quite well by making a few dietary changes and lifestyle modifications. Some foods, such as dairy products, caffeine, and certain fruits or vegetables, are particularly prone to triggering symptoms. Food sensitivities vary from person to person, so dietary changes are often a matter of trial and error. Although stress is not thought to cause irritable bowel syndrome, it is believed to trigger symptoms in some people, so relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga are often recommended as a treatment option.
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are known for causing painful colon spasms. The former is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that can cause potentially life-threatening complications if not properly treated. Crohn's disease can cause severe pain, malnutrition, or intestinal blockages. There is no known cure for either of these conditions, but the implementation of dietary changes and the use of prescription medications may be able to adequately control symptoms.
Endometriosis is a condition that affects women and causes the tissue that normally grows inside of the uterus to spread to other parts of the body. When endometrial tissue attaches to the intestines, painful colon spasms can develop. The symptoms often worsen in accordance with the menstrual cycle. In many cases, surgical removal of the uterus can stop the growth of this tissue and lessen the severity and frequency of the intestinal spasms.
Bowel obstructions or bacterial infections can lead to severe medical problems and may even be fatal in extreme cases. Colon spasms may present as a symptom in either of these conditions. If treated promptly, life-threatening complications can usually be avoided.