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Readers Respond: What Does Your IBS Pain Feel Like?

Responses: 130


Updated October 11, 2012

Everyone experiences IBS pain differently. Describe for us what IBS pain feels like to you. Descriptive phrases that really capture the pain experience can be useful as a starting point for guided imagery for pain relief. Share your experiences and find out what IBS pain feels like to other people.

Share Your Experience

My ibs feels like....

Contraction pains!!!!! It's very similar... A building wave of intense squeezing pain and it lasts for a long time .... I always feel desperate to stop the pain.
—Guest Hurtin jo

My IBS Pain Feels Like

Contractions too!! I describe it as contractions, and the bundle of joy is the RELIEF, I get once it is over!
—Guest Need Relief

IBS pain feels like

CONTRACTIONS for sure! Thoughts of wanting a epidural go through my head when it hits. INTENSE cramping in waves, hours of labor and finally it is OVER!
—Guest Make it go away

worst pain ive ever felt

Every once in a while (can't pinpoint a certain type of food that triggers it) i get these extremely painful contractions that feels like someone is grabbing my intestines and squeezing them as hard as they can. I get sweats, chills, dizziness and sometimes vomiting until several pains and gurgles later i have diarrhea. These are by far the worst pains ive ever had (even more painful than my twin pregnancy and c-section/recovery). Sometimes i will get them weekly and others monthly or every couple of months. I haven't been able to pinpoint a certain food doing it because ill be fine one time and not the next. I dont want to deal with this again (just literally had one), let alone for the rest of my life.
—Guest kayla

Sharp Pains HOURLY

Mine started 3 years ago, it started off as sharp stabbing pains low near my ovaries, near ovulation And was diagnosed as ovulation pain, then drs discovered I was pregnant and thought it was an ectopic pregnancy so done emergency surgery to have a detailed look but found nothing, it turned out as a miscarriage not an ectopic. I have it every single day all day long, I have 3 children and this pain is unbearable, I have been rushed to hospital by ambulance over 80 times in 1year until I gathered myself that it could be ibs, no dr has diagnosed it and the drs from our digestive diseases department sent me to gynaecology saying its gynaecological and after 2 more laparoscopies they've finally said it's not any gynaecological problems And must be my bowels which is very frustrating for me, I now have no trust in any health professionals and I'm on antidepressants And anti anxiety medications AND strong strong painkillers while breastfeeding (which drs said is safe and my baby is fine)
—Guest Teezarh

My IBS symptoms

My IBS pains feel like I'm being stabbed through my vagina. I get cramplike contractions so severe sometimes that I have to brace myself! As fast as the cramps approach they disappear!
—Guest Denise

upper middle stomach hurt

For years the middle of my stomach near my chest hurts so badly as if I have a huge stone blocking the airway. Now it's like that even when I way up. I had several test done and no one seems to know what is the problem! HELP!
—Guest Fran


(continued) And for me, I mainly experience the painful gas and bloating part of IBS. I don't have constipation or diarrhea that often. Although I do have many bowel movements during the day if I'm at home for most of it. Many times if I'm at home I will eat something and then 20 minutes later I will need to go to the toilet. I notice that if I drink soda I'll have gas pains later in the night. So if I want to drink soda I stir all of the bubbles out but even then I still get gas pain sometimes. I haven't been formally diagnosed with IBS but I think it fits my symptoms.
—Guest Isis

A spiked balloon in my stomach

I've had IBS symptoms since I was 14. I started getting very bad gas pain and abdominal bloating when I started wearing tight jeans that went up to a little below my waist. Sitting in class wearing jeans that were tight around my stomach always resulted in extreme pain most days. If I wake up early I usually have gas pains, I think it's because I can't defecate so early in the morning. I also get gas pains if I'm awake late past 4am. Since I finished school a while ago I don't get gas pains as often. But when I do it's miserable and Gas-X does not even help. The pain mostly in the middle of my abdomen but I feel it all throughout my torso. Even if I'm hungry, the bloating in my stomach feels like a balloon. I lose my appetite and feel nauseous, and sometimes when I have gas I try to burp and it feels like acid reflux. Lying down and pushing my stomach downwards helps some. But the only thing that usually cures it is to get a full night's sleep. Stress definitely makes it worse too.
—Guest Isis

Some helpful tips

The pain I've had with my IBS (which was officially diagnosed) is like a tight pressure from gas, and at times a shooting rectal pain, which is relieved by having a bowel movement. Things get bad for me around my period, causing nausea and crampiness and diarrhea. And I switch between diarrhea and constipation- fun. So here's what helps me, and what I imagine will help lots of you. Elimination Diet. Stop eating/ drinking these things and see if you have improvement: Alcohol, Caffeine, Processed foods, specifically those containing MSG in its various forms, Cabbage, Broccoli, Onions. I imagine many of you will see a great instant improvement in your symptoms by ridding your body of foods like these, which really aren't good for anyone. Next, try reducing anxiety. Distract yourself, put on a movie, call a friend, read a book. Pray. Stress is a serious problem for IBS sufferers. Also, take some books out from the library on IBS, and figure out what's normal. God bless!
—Guest Clara

Agree with 'Ugly Truth'

This is exactly what happens to me! My triggers are dairy, preservatives, and corn syrup. I also have gotten a rash on my stomach. I've only found 1 doctor who understands/believes that preservatives are a problem. What's with that? Recently, I've had symptoms after eating Perdue chicken. It has happened a few times, so that's off my list of what I can eat.
—Guest Carol


I've had IBS since I was a tiny child. I am 19 now and I still have the same symptoms. The pain is in the middle of my ribs and I can't sleep for hours because of the pain and how uncomfortable I am. When I finally give a BM it is very watery and gassy. It takes almost two hours of sitting on the toilet in pain. The pain even spreads to my lower back and that makes it hard to sit right to pass a BM properly. I have been to so many doctors and they all just give me something to loosen my stool. But it still hurts so much and it affects my job and college. I am a vegetarian so eating healthy is what I aim to do. But still if I have a black bean burger my IBS flares up, which sucks because I love black bean burgers! I hate this. Someone trade stomachs and intestines with me?!
—Guest catastrophe

There is relief!

I want to share my experience with you. I had wicked cramps and my belly would swell so bad that I could not even walk! It was horrible! I finally went to a nutritionist. With her help, we were able to determine what set off the flares. Cutting out the foods that bring on the cramps and irregular BM, or even minimizing how much of it I eat, has helped a ton! Some of the items we removed were onions, caffeine, sugar (use honey or if you don't mind it use stevia instead), pop, dairy (use almond milk instead), MSG was a huge one!, soy and wheat/gluten. I still have some of these items but in moderation, and try to completely avoid if I'm going out with friends. There is a way to control it. Every Body is different, so if you can contact a nutritionist or even ask your Dr. If there is a natural way to deal with it. Another thing I'm taking and find it helps me stay regular is flax seeds or psyllium or any kind of fibre.
—Guest Sue

Ugly truth

Starts off with a dull backache and after 5 years I recognize this sign and know what's about to happen. Mine usually takes place early morning. I have found taking very deep breaths (and I do mean deep) this helps it pass faster. Yes it hurts more to do this but I would rather 20 mins of the pain vs 5 hours. During the most intense pain I usually have to mentally block out everything and focus on my breathing. Start sweating from every pore in my body then end up with diarrhea (several rounds). The pain finally starts to fade and it's this moment where you realize how much you take being "normal" for granted. I have passed out once from the pain. Mine usually is a burning sensation under my ribs almost center like near diaphragm. I lose all color in my face, get pale white. Afterwards I'm exhausted and start having severe chills but fall asleep easily. I usually am sore just a little the next day. I feel for all of you experiencing this.

32 years of this...

I first remember shaking on the toilet in the middle of the night in intense pain at the age of 8. i am 40 now and have had four kids. IBS for me, is worse than labor. It is not a controlled situation that lasts for less than a day where you have a baby to love afterwards. It is a constant nagging, bloating in my upper right side where my extreme constipation and obstructions start. If I don't pay attention, I will go over a week without a BM and actually go up two pants sizes. I will be irritable, weak, have body and joint pains and extreme fatigue. I take massive stool softeners and laxatives to get the ball rolling, knowing the distress it will put me in. Every bm going down my bowels is excruciatingly painful. I get cold sweats, exhaustion, fever, shakes, chest pain, and if the contraction takes too long-panic. There is no getting away from it. When it is all over, it leaves a raw, feeling like there was crushed glass inside me. It takes a day or two to recover.
—Guest Sara

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What Does Your IBS Pain Feel Like?

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