Constipation and muscle spasms

Can Constipation Cause Leg Pain

Does constipation typically cause leg pain? Although leg pain is not normally associated with constipation, constipation can cause back pain, which can lead to pain or discomfort in other areas of the body.

Treating constipation normally involves changes in diet and exercise, but sometimes prescription medication is needed to keep the fecal matter from becoming impacted.

Commonly Asked Questions About Constipation

Here are some of the questions that medical professionals answer most often about constipation.

Q. Why am I constipated?

As food moves through your digestive system, it’s broken down into nutrients your body needs and waste the body wants to expel. When your colon (the large intestine) absorbs too much water, the waste (stool) gets hard, dry, and very difficult to expel.

Q. Can constipation cause back pain?

Many patients complain of lower back pain when constipated. Causes connecting the two may include:

  • Muscle strain from trying to force a bowel movement
  • Pressure from abdominal bloating, gas, and swelling

If you already have a back condition, straining to defecate can make it worse. Abdominal pain is common when constipation has your digestive system backed up.

Q. Which laxatives should I take?

If your constipation is occasional, you might try a bulk laxative containing fiber to become regular. But if your constipation is frequent or severe, we recommend you get medical advice. Overuse of laxatives can make your condition worse over time.

Help for Constipation at FastMed Urgent Care

The medical professionals at FastMed Urgent Care can help determine the cause of your constipation and ensure it is not caused by a more serious problem, like irritable bowel syndrome. In most cases, an X-ray will be taken to make sure there is no blockage or impacted fecal matter. If your condition is severe, constipation medication may be prescribed to you.

Before your visit, be prepared with a list of any medications you’re taking, as some of them can contribute to constipation. For accurate information about lifestyle changes that help relieve the pain of constipation, please use our medical library.

FastMed Urgent Care has locations throughout North Carolina, Arizona and Texas that have extended hours and accept most major insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare. Find a FastMed near you today!

———— Sources: Inner Body: Your Digestive System



As an undesired urge for leg movement, RLS symptoms are triggered by rest, often at night, and improve temporarily with movement, especially while walking. In normal population, the syndrome has a prevalence ranging from 7% to 15% and significantly contributes to sleep disorders.16-18 To date, the most commonly associated medical condition is iron deficiency,19 which accounts for just over 20% of all cases of RLS. Other conditions associated with RLS include varicose vein or venous reflux, folate and magnesium deficiency, fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, diabetes, thyroid disease, peripheral neuropathy, celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis.20

Having enrolled a considerable number of IBS patients and healthy controls, our study showed a significantly higher prevalence of RLS in IBS patients. It seems that screening patients with IBS for RLS may lead to greater identification of RLS and improved treatment for both conditions. In a recent single-group, community-based study, Basu et al21 have shown that 29% of IBS patients based on Rome III criteria also suffered from RLS. Similarly, our findings also suggest that RLS symptom is more common in IBS patients. In this study, we revealed that RLS could be a co-morbid condition with IBS in 57 of 226 patients (25.3%), in comparison with 6.5% of control population. This study contributes to the available consensus suggesting screening patients with IBS for RLS, leading to greater identification of RLS which may enhance treatment options for patients and medications may provide relief for both entities.7 Furthermore, Basu et al21 showed 62% of patients with both RLS and IBS had IBS-D, while 4% had IBS-C and 33% had IBS-M, suggesting that the specific pathophysiology of IBS-D may contribute to or relate to RLS. Our findings of IBS patients with co-morbid RLS revealed they suffered more from stomach pain, nausea and vomiting. Although, not statistically significant, the highest prevalence of RLS was reported in IBS-M (28.1%) and IBS-C (26.7%) patients, respectively, which was not in line with Basu’s report.21 Even though SIBO is not evaluated in our study, this difference between Basu’s findings21 and our investigation may reflect different portion of SIBO subtypes such as hydrogen-producer or methane-producer; where methane-producer has been reported to be more associated with constipation.22

Interestingly, our results showed that more severe IBS symptoms also occurred in patients suffering from both IBS and RLS. This could be in line with some recent evidences demonstrating more severe IBS symptoms as well as negative impacts on patients’ quality of life in cases with other neurologic and/or psychologic co-morbidities such as anxiety and depression.23,24 All of these findings are supporting the neurologic-related identity of IBS and more specifically the association between RLS and symptom severity in IBS patients, which could be linked to serotonin transmission shown to be involved in both conditions of IBS25 and RLS.26

In our study, the prevalence rate of RLS was higher in female IBS patients compared with male (28.7% vs 20.8%). Although the difference failed to demonstrate a statistically significant level, it was considerably more prominent than the gender difference observed among the controls with RLS (6.6% vs 6.3%). This may add another aspect to the previously demonstrated gender-related differences in IBS patients.27,28 Moreover, while some significant differences were observed in baseline characteristics between 2 study groups, it must be noted that the mean of hemoglobin, hematocrit and ferritin in both groups was within the normal range. Additionally, the difference between RLS prevalence between 2 study groups is to some extent underestimated as the lower hemoglobin and ferritin which have been previously demonstrated to associate with higher incidence of RLS,29,30 are more likely observed in control group and not the IBS patients (where the prevalence of RLS is shown to be significantly higher). With respect to the reported significant difference in BMI between 2 study groups, it could be considered to have insignificant effect on the final association between IBS and RLS. Although BMI seems to influence symptoms in IBS patients (where higher BMI is associated with more IBS-D and looser stools),31 there is an evidence confirming no association between BMI and RLS.32

Previous research has identified an association between SIBO, a possible contributing factor to IBS, and several sensory disorders including fibromyalgia and RLS. Basu et al21 proposed the diagnosis of simultaneous IBS and RLS might provide enhanced therapeutic efficacy for these patients, as some medications like rifaximin, might provide symptom relief for both conditions. Nineteen out of 26 patients with both IBS and RLS were treated with the antibiotic rifaximin, with 9 reporting relief of RLS symptoms. The study was powered by the fact that the diagnosis of RLS was made based on a standard questionnaire formulated by the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group and was confirmed by polysomnography, which in our cases was not utilized. It might permit more accurate diagnosis if more non-invasive diagnostic approaches were implied. However, our study is privileged by the large number of study population and control group. To date this is the first study worldwide to be designed as such.

Weinstock et al,33 in a pilot study, provided preliminary data to support the novel hypotheses that SIBO associated with IBS may be an important factor in some patients with RLS and that comprehensive SIBO therapy may provide long-term improvement in both RLS and GI symptoms. Supporting the mentioned hypothesis, in one study on 13 patients with IBS and positive lactulose breath test, an indicator of SIBO, rifaximin 1,200 mg/day for 10 days was associated with at least 80% improvement from baseline in RLS symptoms in 10 patients and a “great” or “moderate” global GI symptom improvement in 11 patients.34 Five of the 10 patients followed for long-term (mean duration of 139 days) showed maintenance of complete resolution of their RLS symptoms. Thus, if SIBO is a potential trigger, the treatment paradigm for RLS could radically change for this difficult-to-treat, common disorder.

In conclusion, the results presented herein contribute to the available literature supporting an association between IBS and RLS. Although our study has some limitations including cross-sectional design and lack of data on SIBO evaluation and polysomnographic confirmatory results, it must be taken into account that this is the first to enroll such a high number of IBS patients with a matched group of healthy individuals for comparing the prevalence of RLS. Moreover, the criteria used for RLS diagnosis have been previously cited in many RLS studies as the sole confident diagnostic instrument for this purpose.15 The other strength of our study refers to the wide criteria applied for the exclusion of other probable co-morbid conditions with RLS in order for more clear and purified assessment of the association between IBS and RLS. After the exclusion of all of the enrolled cases and controls with specific diseases known to be related to RLS including anemia, thyroid diseases and etc, a significantly higher prevalence of RLS was shown in IBS group compared with the healthy controls. Interestingly, a higher prevalence rate of RLS was also accompanied with a more severe discomfort and stomach pain in IBS patients. It seems that screening IBS patients for RLS, or vice versa, may allow greater identification and subsequent treatment of RLS, which is thought to be under diagnosed, even in the general population. Further research is needed to determine the underlying mechanisms common in both disorders addressing the causality of this connection. Similar studies including the assessment of SIBO seem to be helpful for better understanding of the association between IBS and RLS. Also, concomitant diagnosis of these disorders may enhance treatment options for patients, given that some medications may provide relief for both conditions. Therefore, it could be worthwhile to design a randomized controlled clinical trial in order to evaluate the effects of RLS treatment on IBS symptoms in patients suffering from both disorders.

Why do I have muscle spasms in my stomach?

The following conditions are all known to cause stomach spasms:

1. Constipation

Share on PinterestThere are many possible causes for stomach spasms, including gas, muscle strain, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation.

Cramps and spasms are common symptoms of constipation.

Other symptoms include:

  • having few bowel movements (usually less than three a week)
  • passing small or hard stools
  • stomach bloating
  • straining to pass stool

2. Dehydration

Dehydration can cause an imbalance of electrolytes in the body (particularly sodium and potassium). Muscles require these nutrients to function correctly, so they may begin to seize up and spasm when they do not have enough.

Additional symptoms of dehydration are:

  • dark urine
  • dizziness
  • extreme thirst
  • headache

3. Gas

Too much gas in the stomach may lead to spasms as the muscles in the intestines strain to let out the gas.

Excess gas can also cause:

  • bloating
  • feelings of fullness
  • stomach pains

4. Gastritis and gastroenteritis

Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach, while gastroenteritis involves inflammation of both the stomach and the intestines. These conditions are typically caused by infections.

Gastritis and gastroenteritis may also cause the following symptoms:

  • bloating
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea (in cases of gastroenteritis only)

5. Ileus and gastroparesis

Digested food passes through the body’s intestines thanks to wave-like muscle contractions called peristalsis. When peristalsis slows down or stops at any stage of the intestines, it is referred to as an ileus.

Several things can cause ileus, including:

  • infection
  • inflammation
  • lack of activity
  • surgery
  • use of narcotics

Other symptoms of ileus include:

  • abdominal discomfort
  • nausea
  • vomiting

An ileus that involves the stomach is known as gastroparesis. This can also cause stomach spasms, especially after meals.

6. Infectious colitis

Colitis refers to inflammation of the colon (large intestine). There are many types of colitis. If the inflammation is caused by an infection, it is referred to as infectious colitis.

In addition to stomach spasms, the symptoms of infectious colitis include:

  • dehydration
  • diarrhea
  • frequent bowel movements

Infectious colitis may be caused by consuming contaminated food or water that contains pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, or Giardia.

7. Inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD is the term given to a group of chronic conditions involving inflammation of the digestive tract. IBD affects up to 1.6 million people in the United States.

The most common types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both conditions cause spasms and other symptoms, including:

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • the urge to pass stool frequently
  • weight loss

8. Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional digestive disorder, which means that the digestive tract appears undamaged, but it still causes symptoms.

It affects 10 to 15 percent of people worldwide, making it the most common functional digestive disorder.

Along with stomach spasms, IBS causes:

  • abdominal pain
  • bloating
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • gas

9. Ischemic enteritis and colitis

When poor blood supply causes inflammation of the large intestine, it is termed ischemic colitis. When this issue affects the small intestine, is it called ischemic enteritis.

Both conditions lead to stomach spasms and other symptoms, including:

  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • vomiting

10. Muscle strain

Working the abdominal muscles too hard or too often can lead to stomach spasms. People who regularly do crunches and sit-ups may be most at risk.

Other muscle strain symptoms are:

  • pain that is made worse by movement
  • tender muscles


Just thought I’d post this as these are things that help my husband Tom for Leg Cramps and Constipation.

Severe Leg Cramps:

If your loved one who has CC experiences severe leg cramps this may be of help.

1) Place dryer sheets under the bottom sheet where the calves of the legs would be when sleeping. About 8 – 10 of them laid out, then place the bottom sheet over them. Don’t know why, but it works to eliminate them. Tom used to experience them about every 3 days, now after using the dryer sheets he only has them maybe 1x a month. Change the dryer sheets each time you change out the bed linens or at least every week.

2) When / if experiencing those pain wrenching leg cramps, the CC patient is usually in such pain that you can’t even touch the leg to try to massage the cramp out, so what we use are hot/wet towels. I run hot water over towels (as hot as my hands can stand) then wring them out, place each one in a plastic bad, then wrap the affected leg with the plastic covered towel, (being careful not to burn the patient) You may have to place a thinner dry towel over the leg first. The keep replacing the hot towels until the cramp subsides. (Generally within 5 – 10 minutes) It’s a lot of running back and forth from the patient to the sink, but IT WORKS. I have been doing this for Tom for the past year, and these are the ONLY things that we have found that work for his severe leg cramps! (Don’t laugh, try them both)


Many CC patients suffer from constipation, and moreso if they are on painkillers!

Tom has tried colace, milk of magnesia, miralax….etc. and NONE of them were effective!

I then remember that one of my grandchildren suffered from severe constipation as a very young child and one of the things we gave her to ‘help her go’ was pear juice!

So off to the store goes I and the search for pear juice begins….well you can’t find it in the regular juice section of the store, so go to the baby section, where they have diapers, baby food, etc. And you WILL find PEAR JUICE.

Have your constipated CC patient drink one 4 – 8 oz glass of pear juice every day and like clockwork, they WILL be able to go to the bathroom! Don’t know why it works, or how it works, but it does! Tom has been constipation free for the past two weeks since he started drinking pear juice (before that he suffered terribly from constipation with nothing relieving it) This also works for young children all the way to adults/seniors. For young children, be careful not to give them too much (no more then 3 – 4 ozs daily) or you will have the opposite of constipation!

Hope these tips ‘n tricks help others out there!


An autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) results when the body’s immune system starts to attack and destroy myelin, the protecting coating on nerve fibers in the brain and/or spinal cord of the central nervous system. Attacks on the myelin sheath cause it to become inflamed in small patches (called plaques or lesions), and the inflammation disrupts messages traveling along the nerves, slowing and even blocking them. This loss of effective nerve communication leads to disease symptoms.

While a number of symptoms are common to MS patients, their severity and nature can vary widely. Each MS patient is believed to be affected differently.

The most common symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:

• Fatigue, an intense feeling of tiredness often accompanied by a loss of the urge and ability to work or do daily tasks. This is a major reason for the long-term employment difficulties reported by people with MS. Fatigue is a common multiple sclerosis symptom, found in 80% of all cases.

• Numbness and tingling of the face, body, arms and legs. Numbness is often an early MS symptom, often reported prior to an MS diagnosis. Facial muscle twitching and trigeminal neuralgia have also been reported in patients.

• Muscle spasms, causing stiffness in muscles of the limbs and most involuntary muscles.

• Walking difficulties are a result of fatigue, spasticity (muscle tightness and resistance to movement), loss of the sense of balance, and a deficit in sensory nerve impulses.

• Bladder problems are also found in almost 80% of MS patients. Bladder dysfunction in MS can range from frequent urination to urinary incontinence, an inability to fully empty the bladder, and urinary infections.

• Lightheadedness, dizziness, and vertigo.

• Bowel problems. Constipation is the most common symptom here, and bladder incontinence, while less common, is associated with constipation.

• Pain, either neuropathic or musculoskeletal, has been reported by patients. One study found 50% to 55% of patients had either “clinically significant” chronic or occasional pain as a result of the disease.

• Vision problems can also be an early disease symptom, and include blurred vision, double vision, temporary loss of vision, eye pain (especially when moving the eye), or color blindness. (Optical neuritis, due to damage to the optic nerve, is a complication of MS.)

• Cognitive changes, such as problems with thinking or reasoning, learning, problem-solving, and planning, are among the range of high-level brain functions affected by the disease.

• Sexual problems, including erectile dysfunction in men.

• Emotional changes, including depression, anxiety, and mood swings.

Some of the less common symptoms of MS include slurred or slow speech, tremors (uncontrolled shaking) , dysphagia (swallowing problems), uncontrolled itching (sensations of being stabbed or pricked by needles), hearing loss, and headache.

Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong condition, but it is possible in most cases to address symptoms with treatments that range from medications to physical therapy or assisted therapy. Again, disease symptoms and their severity vary widely among people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Read more about multiple sclerosis diagnosis.

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Common causes of constipation

Many factors can dispose a person to constipation. Some can easily be prevented by changing habits and lifestyle (although the role of lifestyle factors may not be as important as once thought). Often, the cause has to do with physiological problems or diseases.

Following are the more common causes of constipation:

Lack of exercise. People who exercise regularly generally don’t develop constipation. Basically, the colon responds to activity. Good muscle tone in general is important for regular bowel movements. The abdominal wall muscles and the diaphragm all play a crucial role in the process of defecation. If these muscles are weak, they’re not going to be able to do the job as well. But exercise is not a cure-all. Increasing exer-cise to improve constipation may be more effective in older people, who tend to be more sedentary, than in younger people.

Opioids. The digestive tract has receptors for opioids, and constipation can occur (or worsen) when people take opioid pain medications. Opioid-induced constipation occurs in roughly 94% of cancer patients taking opioids for pain and 41% of people taking opioids for chronic noncancer pain.

Other medications. Constipation is a side effect of many prescription and over-the-counter drugs. These include antacids that contain aluminum, antispasmodics, antidepressants, tranquilizers and sedatives, bismuth salts, iron supplements, diuretics, anticholinergics, calcium-channel blockers, and anticonvulsants.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some people who suffer from IBS have sluggish bowel movements, straining during bowel movements, and abdominal discomfort. Constipation may be the predominant symptom, or it may alternate with diarrhea. Cramping, gas, and bloating are also common.

Abuse of laxatives. Laxatives are sometimes used inappropriately, for example, by people suffering from anorexia nervosa or bulimia. But for people with long-term constipation, the extended use of laxatives may be a reasonable solution. In the past, long-term use of some laxatives was thought to damage nerve cells in the colon and interfere with the colon’s innate ability to contract. However, newer formulations of laxatives have made this outcome rare

Changes in life or routine. Traveling can give some people problems because it disrupts normal diet and daily routines. Aging often affects regularity by reducing intestinal activity and muscle tone. Pregnancy may cause women to become constipated because of hormonal changes or because the enlarged uterus pushes on the intestine.

Ignoring the urge. If you have to go, go. If you hold in a bowel movement, for whatever reason, you may be inviting a bout of constipation. People who repeatedly ignore the urge to move their bowels may eventually stop feeling the urge.

Not enough fiber and fluids in the diet. A diet too low in fiber and fluids and too high in fats can con-tribute to constipation. Fiber absorbs water and causes stools to be larger, softer, and easier to pass. Increasing fiber intake helps cure constipation in many people, but those with more severe constipation sometimes find that increasing fiber makes their constipation worse and leads to gassiness and discomfort.

Other causes. Diseases that can cause constipa-tion include neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, stroke, or multiple sclerosis; metabolic and endocrine disorders, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease; bowel cancer; and diverticulitis. A number of systemic conditions, like scleroderma, can also cause constipation. In addition, intestinal obstructions, caused by scar tissue (adhesions) from past surgery or strictures of the colon or rectum, can compress, squeeze, or narrow the intestine and rectum, causing constipation.

For more on treating constipation and other gastrointestinal conditions, read The Sensitive Gut, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Image: © Wavebreakmedia | GettyImages

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Cauda Equina Syndrome


Cauda= a tail
Equina= a horse
Syndrome= a collection of symptoms that occur together

Cauda equina syndrome results from compression (squeezing) of the cauda equina–the sac of nerves and nerve roots at the base and just below the spinal cord in the lumbosacral spinal canal. It is a rare but serious disorder, and a medical emergency.

The nerves of the cauda equina provide motor and sensory function to the legs and the bladder. Compression of these nerves can interrupt their function, and the effects can be severe. Cauda equina syndrome can lead to bladder and bowel dysfunction (loss of bladder/bowel control) and even permanent paralysis in the muscles of one or both legs.

The cauda equina gets its name from the Latin words meaning “horse’s tail.” The sac of nerve roots has an appearance similar to a horse’s tail.


Cauda equina syndrome can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • severe low back pain
  • bladder dysfunction such as urinary retention or incontinence (loss of control)
  • bowel incontinence (loss of control)
  • muscle weakness or sensory loss in both legs
  • loss of motor function in legs (difficulty walking)
  • loss or reduction of reflexes
  • saddle anesthesia (inability to feel anything in the body areas that would sit on a saddle)

Exact symptoms and their severity depend on which nerve root(s) are affected and the degree to which they are compressed.

Causes and Risk Factors

Cauda equina syndrome is most commonly caused by a massive disc herniation in the lumbar spine (low back). A disc herniation occurs when the jelly-like core of a disc herniates, or shifts out of position, putting pressure on nearby nerves in the spine. Herniated discs can occur with advanced age or can be caused by a spinal injury.

Cauda equina syndrome can also be caused by trauma, a spinal tumor, spinal stenosis or a severe infection. In rare cases, spinal stenosis and vertebral fractures from osteoporosis can lead to cauda equina syndrome.

Tests and Diagnosis

Cauda equina syndrome is difficult to diagnose. It is rare, and its early symptoms may be similar to symptoms of other conditions. In addition, symptoms associated with cauda equina syndrome may vary in intensity and evolve slowly over time.

If a patient presents with symptoms associated with cauda equina syndrome, a doctor may order the following diagnostic procedures:

  • Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging – the best method of imaging the spinal cord, nerve roots, intervertebral discs, and ligaments. Since these scans can detect damage or disease of soft tissue, MRIs are valuable in diagnosing the cause of cauda equina syndrome.
  • Myelogram – procedure that involves injecting a liquid dye into the spinal column. These X-ray and CT images (usually performed with a Computerized Tomography (CT) scan) can show pressure on the cauda equina from herniated discs and other conditions.


Cauda equina syndrome is a potential surgical emergency, and may require timely decompression surgery to reduce/remove the pressure on the nerve(s). Undergoing early surgery seems to offer the best chance for improvement of sensory and muscle function as well as bowel and bladder function.

If left untreated, cauda equina syndrome can lead to permanent paralysis in the muscle of one or both legs and permanent loss of bladder/bowel control.

An important thing to note is that following surgery, bladder function may take longer to improve than muscle function. Following surgery, the surgeon may prescribe certain medications to be given with intermittent self-catheterization of the bladder. These interventions can lead to a steady recovery and improvement of bladder and sphincter function for years after surgery.

Preparing for Your Appointment

Drs. Paul C. McCormick, Michael G. Kaiser, Peter D. Angevine, Alfred T. Ogden, Christopher E. Mandigo, Patrick C. Reid and Richard C.E. Anderson (Pediatric) are experts in treating cauda equina syndrome. They can also offer you a second opinion.

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