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5 Common Causes of Pain During Bowel Movements and the Role of Your Pelvic Floor

bowel movement

Painful bowel movements are something many of us have experienced at one point or another, but what if they become a recurring issue?

While it might be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, painful poops can indicate an underlying problem that shouldn’t be ignored. In this blog post, we’ll explore common causes of painful bowel movements and discuss the pivotal role that your pelvic floor plays in this discomfort. We’ll also shed light on how a pelvic floor physical therapist can help you find relief.

bowel movement

Common Causes of Painful Bowel Movements:

  1. Constipation:
    • Constipation is defined as not having a bowel movement in 3 or more days, or going less than three times a week.
    • The consistency of your stool may be small, hard, lumpy, and pebbly, making it difficult to empty your bowels without straining.
    • Contributing factors to constipation include a lack of fiber, dehydration, certain medications, insufficient physical activity, and stress.
  2. Hemorrhoids:
    • Hemorrhoids are engorged veins in your rectum that can feel like uncomfortable and sometimes itchy bumps around your anus.
    • You may notice blood or mucus when wiping.
    • Excess straining during bowel movements can increase pressure on these veins, leading to hemorrhoids.
    • Pregnancy, heavy weight lifting, constipation, and severe diarrhea can increase the risk of developing hemorrhoids.
  3. Anal Fissures:
    • Anal fissures are painful cuts or tears inside and around your anus.
    • They can cause sharp pain during a bowel movement, followed by deep burning or stinging pain afterward.
    • These fissures can result from excess straining or passing large or hard stools.
    • Risk factors include pregnancy, heavy weight lifting, anal penetration, constipation, severe diarrhea, or unusually tight anal sphincter muscles.
  4. IBS/IBD:
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are conditions related to gut inflammation and altered bowel habits.
    • IBS is characterized by 6 or more months of alternating constipation and diarrhea not caused by a diagnosable condition.
    • IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, causing inflammation in the intestinal tract.
    • These conditions can lead to abdominal pain, bloating before, during, and after bowel movements, and pain and irritation in the abdominals, lower back, and rectum, particularly in cases of severe diarrhea.

The Role of the Pelvic Floor: The pelvic floor comprises a group of muscles at the bottom of the pelvis, forming a bowl-shaped structure. These muscles provide stability to the core, spine, and hips while supporting the internal organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum. Consequently, they play a crucial role in urinary, bowel, and sexual functions.

The outer layer of the pelvic floor consists of sphincter muscles, responsible for controlling the openings of your urethra, rectum, and, in females, the vagina. When these sphincter muscles are unusually tight, they can impede the emptying of your bowels, leading to straining and placing excessive pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, resulting in painful bowel movements.

How Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Can Help: If you’re experiencing painful bowel movements due to issues with your pelvic floor, seeking help from a pelvic floor physical therapist can be a valuable solution. During an assessment, a pelvic floor physical therapist can thoroughly examine your pelvic floor muscles and identify any tightness or dysfunction. They can then prescribe exercises and interventions to help address and manage the pain.

Painful bowel movements are not something you should simply live with. By understanding the common causes of this discomfort and recognizing the role of your pelvic floor in the process, you can take proactive steps to find relief. If you suspect issues with your pelvic floor are contributing to your pain, consider consulting a pelvic floor physical therapist who can provide personalized care and guide you towards a more comfortable and pain-free experience during bowel movements. Don’t let the discomfort persist; take control of your bowel health today.

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