Colonic spasms are actual cramping that occurs within the muscle layers of the large bowel (the colon). The symptoms are those of pain, cramping, bloating, excess gas and at times urgency to have a bowel movement. The most common areas of pain are in the left lower abdomen and under the right and left rib cage. These are the areas of the bowel that are most sharply angulated, and therefore most prone to spasm.
Spasm is most frequently brought on by internalized stress. This is the stress of every day life; stress associated with family, friends, work, personal and financial concerns and crises as well. All stress that is held inside, may exacerbate symptoms of abdominal cramping. Depression and anxiety may exacerbate stress and colonic spasms, and if they are not dealt with, the colonic symptoms may persist despite therapy.
Colonic cramping may feel like a very serious ailment since the pain is quite real, and naturally very concerning and worrisome to the patient. Usually your doctor can diagnosis this based on your history, physical exam, blood work and sometimes a few other tests such as colonoscopy, gastroscopy, ultrasounds or CT scans. Usually, the symptoms can be helped with antispasmatic medication, while the patient works on decreasing stress and anxiety.
The most important feature about colonic spasms is for the patient to realize that this seemingly invisible process is quite real, and it really hurts. There are no tests that can diagnosis this common condition, only an alert and experienced doctor. The medications that are helpful typically take weeks to exert their effect, and may be needed for many months or longer. Long term results are often excellent, and most patients can get off medications in time.