Constipation and back pain can occur at the same time. Many people may not associate the two but they are definitely connected.
The same area of the spine controls your bowel movements as well as the nerves in and around your low back.
Your spine is like a circuit breaker panel in your home; the nerves coming out of each vertebra control specific functions of your body.
The nerve root coming out of each side of your vertebra contains over 300,000 individual nerve fibers so the exact symptoms can vary widely when these are affected.
The first lumbar or L1 vertebra controls your bowel movements and, if twisted, can cause constipation and back pain. The attached diagram outlines the entire spine and some of the common functions are highlighted.
A subluxation more commonly known as a pinched nerve is what causes the majority of constipation problems as well as back pain. Our muscles and ligaments support our spine much like guy wires that support a pole or radio tower.
Most of us tend to be left or right handed which means that the muscles on our dominant side will tend to be stronger. When we strain our back muscles they pull unevenly and the stronger ones attached to the vertebrae will pull it out of alignment. An accident or some sort of trauma is also a common cause of pinched nerves. The injured muscles are weakened and the stronger muscles will again pull harder than the injured ones and pull the vertebra out of alignment.
The foramen is the hole through which the nerve root passes and is created by the vertebrae above and below. When one of the vertebrae become twisted the foramen is made smaller and the nerve root becomes impinged or pinched by the vertebra. If the first lumbar vertebra becomes pinched a common symptom is constipation and back pain.
The brain is trying to send a signal to your colon to move the muscles in a certain way to effectively remove the waste. The pinched nerve stops that signal from reaching the colon partially or entirely so the colon doesn’t know what to do.
Patients will commonly experience other symptoms when their first lumbar vertebra becomes twisted. Symptoms such as hernias, diarrhea and dysentery can all be experienced when the L1 vertebra nerve root is impinged.
Adjacent vertebrae are also commonly affected especially during an accident or other trauma. Kidney problems, difficulty breathing and cramps are additional symptoms that may be triggered by the adjacent vertebrae if they are also twisted. Any of these other lumbar vertebrae can be a cause of lower back pain.
Many people will experience intermittent constipation and back pain which confuses them. This is very normal and is due to the state of the muscles. When the muscles relax some they will allow the foramen to open up and remove at least some pressure from the nerve. When the muscles tighten back up they pull on the vertebra again making the foramen smaller.
If you have a pinched nerve in your lower back a chiropractor is the only doctor trained to treat them. As a back pain specialist a chiropractor is specifically trained in how the spine and individual vertebrae interact with the nervous system. In the initial exam the doctor will verify that a subluxation exists with x-rays and by palpating the spine. If they confirm that a subluxation is the problem they are able to apply a specific force to the vertebra to realign it.
The longer the subluxation has been causing the constipation and back pain the more accustomed the ligaments and muscles have become to their abnormal positions. This is no different than crooked teeth that need braces to be corrected. Like teeth the spine will only accept so much change at a time.
When chiropractors adjust a chronically misaligned spine it is similar to taking 3 steps forward and one step backwards. The ligaments and muscles will allow the vertebrae to move closer to their aligned position with each adjustment but they have to stretch further to do so. Eventually they will be stretched to their original and proper length and will be able to hold the spine in the correct alignment.
If you have constipation and back pain I encourage you to have a chiropractic examination. These symptoms are not normal and do not have to be tolerated.
These 3D animations with voice-over are to help you better understand your condition and the possible course of action to treat it.
The simple to use interface will allow you to see and hear the explainations of many conditions, inculding their treatments. The Amazing Spine area will explain the human spine and each vertebrea's affect on the internal organs and nerves.
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