Colon inflammation and low back pain and discomfort
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
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Inflammation of the colon- “colitis”- has many causes and is often associated with low back symptoms. A variety of causes of colitis exist:
Infectious colitis: A number of “bugs” may cause colitis. Commonly found in food or contaminated water, bacteria can produce toxins that make intestinal cells secrete salt and water and interfere with their normal functions. Salmonella, Shigella species, Campylobacter jejuni, and Clostridium difficile are examples of bacteria associated with infectious colitis.
Viruses such as rotavirus or Norwalk can damage the mucous membrane lining the intestine and interfere with fluid absorption.
People infected with protozoa such as Entamoeba histolytica may show no symptoms (carrier state), or they can have chronic, loose stools or they can experience acute severe dysentery. Colitis due to E histolytica, also known as amebiasis, has become an important sexually transmitted disease in homosexual men.
Localized areas of colitis may occur at variable periods after treatment of the pelvic region with radiotherapy.
Ischemic colitis: This disease often affects the elderly. The mechanism of ischemia—massive decrease in the blood supply to the bowel—can be due to atherosclerotic disease.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder of the intestine that leads to cramps, excessive production of gas, bloating, and changes in bowel habits. The cause of irritable bowel syndrome is unknown.
Antibiotic-associated colitis usually occurs in people receiving antibiotics.
Inflammatory bowel diseases is a common cause of bowel inflammation and low back pain. There are two major forms: Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis. The causes are unknown. But certain features of these diseases have suggested several contributing factors such as:
•Genetic: There is a high similarity of symptoms among identical twins, particularly with Crohn disease.
•Infectious agents or environmental toxins: Many infectious agents have been accused of being the cause but there is no consensus of opinion.
•Immune defense mechanisms: Several alterations in the immune regulation have been identified in inflammatory bowel disease.
•Cigarettes: Smokers increase their risk of developing Crohn disease twofold. In contrast, smokers have only half the risk of developing ulcerative colitis.
•Oral contraceptive pill: Birth control pills have been claimed to be a possible cause of Crohn disease.
Treatment of colitis depends on the severity. For a mild case of diarrhea:
•Drink clear fluids such as water, lemonade, light lemon tea, and light soup.
•Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water and other liquids daily to prevent complications such as dehydration.
•As symptoms improve or stools become formed, a patient may start to eat low-fiber foods. They should avoid greasy or fatty foods for several days.
A physician should be consulted for:
•Diarrhea lasting more than 3 days
•Severe abdominal pain
•Dehydration which can present as dry mouth, anxiety or restlessness, excessive thirst, decreased urination
•Frequent loose bowel movements during pregnancy
•Blood or mucus in the stool
•Progressively looser bowel movements and other symptoms such as fever and diarrhea
Other symptoms to be wary about are persistent right lower quadrant abdominal pain as well as severe low back pain.
A work-up for inflammatory bowel disease is advised for patients with persistent symptoms.
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