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What is Splenic Flexure Syndrome?

Laura M. Sands
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Splenic flexure syndrome describes a digestive disorder characterized by gas becoming trapped inside of flexures located inside the colon. While gas symptoms are normal in humans, this particular digestive disorder produces excessive gas and other symptoms considered to be abnormal. Such causes a great deal of discomfort and irritation to individuals afflicted with this condition. Splenic flexure syndrome is at times classified as a subtype of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and, in some, the symptoms that characterize splenic flexure syndrome is actually caused by IBS.

The splenic flexure is an area of the large intestine located right next to the spleen. When this digestive disorder flares up, a person experiences pain in the upper left side of the abdomen. Due to the close proximity of the splenic flexure to the heart, the painful symptoms of splenic flexure syndrome may cause some to believe that a heart attack is occurring.

Symptoms of splenic flexure syndrome include bloating, colon spasms and uncomfortable gas pains from air being trapped in the colon’s flexure. Air finds its way and becomes trapped in the splenic flexure due to swallowing air while talking, eating or drinking, or by consuming foods that do not digest well. When food is not digested or is not properly absorbed, it travels to the large intestine and is broken down by bacteria that are naturally present there. During this process, gas is created.

Abdominal bloating is the most commonly occurring symptom of splenic flexure syndrome. While an excessive amount of fatty foods can cause temporary abdominal bloating, individuals with gastroenterology problems experience it more often due to increased movement and abnormal contractions, which occur in the intestinal muscles as the result of a digestive disorder. Normally, bloating is relieved by a bowel movement or by passing gas through the rectum or through the mouth. In cases of splenic flexure syndrome, however, gas does not pass as easily, which causes varying levels of pain and discomfort in individual sufferers.

In order to reduce gas associated with splenic flexure syndrome, health experts recommend avoiding foods naturally known to cause excessive amounts of gas. A few of these foods are Brussels sprouts, beans, broccoli, cabbage, dairy products, prunes, apples, corn, peas, processed breads and cereals, and potatoes. Certain medications commonly used to treat IBS may also be prescribed for relief from gas that accompanies this syndrome.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Laura M. Sands
By Laura M. Sands
Laura Sands, the founder of a publishing company, brings her passion for writing and her expertise in digital publishing to her work. With a background in social sciences and extensive online work experience, she crafts compelling copy and content across various platforms. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a skilled contributor to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon990216 — On Apr 11, 2015

I have had IBS since my teens. But the SFS, Splenic Flexure Syndrome, is about five years old. My only relief is lying on my back, propped up on pillows, and totally relaxing. Sooner or later I feel the gas start moving through my GI tract, and it usually evacuates at some point. Mine has hurt so bad that I, too, have made ER visits with fear of heart problems.

When mine is really bloated bad, I feel like it is hard to breathe, and I can feel my heart beating more than usual. But when the gas finally passes, so do the other symptoms. I keep having thoughts that I have colon cancer, or some other serious problem, although I have had numerous colonoscopies, fecal occult blood tests, and barium enemas, which were all negative. I wish you all luck in dealing with your pain, because I know how painful it can be.

By anon989256 — On Feb 26, 2015

I just found out about this now, after suffering from IBS symptoms for four years, and feeling weird palpitations and chest pains for almost a year. This pain has caused me severe stress, and I had a few panic attacks, due to the fact that I thought I was having a heart attack. The doctors told me it's probably psychological, and wanted to give me psychiatric pills. So far I resisted.

Now - after reading about these syndromes, I'm amazed - it's a bull's-eye! All the syndromes - even the psychological profile of the patients - they all fit! I have great hopes that this is probably what I was suffering from. I will start treatment against gasses right away.

By anon336972 — On Jun 02, 2013

Is there any help for someone having this problem due to chronic sinus drainage?

By anon288883 — On Sep 01, 2012

I have been dealing with this problem since 2002. I had my spleen removed in 2005 because doctors thought that was the problem. I've had numerous colonoscopies and other scopes. I went online myself again in March of this year and read about Splenic Flexure Syndrome. I have all the symptoms. It is extremely painful. I went to my doctor and told her what I have. She put me on Bentyl. It has helped tremendously. I still have days where the spasms are bad but all in all, they are not as often. I just have to avoid certain foods.

By bear78 — On May 15, 2011

I read that 70% of the gas found in our intestines is due to swallowing air. Food is responsible only for the remainder.

I'm sure that not eating certain foods that cause gas would help people who have this syndrome. But since most of that gas is actually swallowed, is there a way to prevent these patients from swallowing so much air?

Maybe helping them be more cautious about how they eat and drink and not allowing smoking and chewing gum might help.

By candyquilt — On May 13, 2011

We have a close family friend who is a doctor and originally from South America. He told me that back home, he has personally met and treated many patients with splenic flexure syndrome who were previously diagnosed with heart disease.

They did fluoroscopic testing on the patients and found out the real problem. It's so amazing how doctors were able to misdiagnose so many patients because of the familiar symptoms of heart disease. And all that time, those patients followed special diets and worried about a heart attack!

Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands
Laura Sands, the founder of a publishing company, brings her passion for writing and her expertise in digital publishing...
Learn more
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