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Where do pain symptoms usually occur in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Dr. William B. Salt, MD
Gastroenterologist

The stomach pain and discomfort associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are usually located in the lower abdomen below the belly button. Most commonly, the pain occurs in your lower left side, but the pain can actually occur anywhere in the abdomen. The pain can be dull, sharp, cramping or constant. Typically, but not always, it can be relieved by having a bowel movement or passing flatus (gas). Often, people notice that they have more frequent or looser bowel movements when they are having trouble with the pain. Others notice the pain more when they are constipated. Some note that pain is worsened with defecation. The pain can be referred into other bodily locations, which can be a source of confusion for patients and doctors. Common referral areas are the chest, pelvis or legs.

Some people with IBS have sudden attacks of abdominal pain that can be so severe that they visit a doctor immediately or go to the emergency room. IBS is a common cause of brief hospital admissions for observation and evaluation of abdominal pain.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

Fast Facts on IBS: One in five people suffers from the frustrating symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). There is no simple answer--no pill, potion, or quick fix--that will cure IBS. But help...

Distension, or swelling, of bowels is what triggers pain symptoms with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.