I've read many comments on the Facebook page and I know others are experiencing this too, so I thought I would look it up and see what I could find. For me personally, I do experience both and for me...the IBS wasn't diagnosed until many years after the injury and pain. I have found over the years that the IBS was worse when on some medications and also with certain foods such as greasy foods or even fast food. My stress levels played a big part in it too as did my pain levels. Have you ever noticed that in your experience too? If you live with this too...what is it like for you and have you spoken to your doctor about it?
As always...please keep in mind that the following article is not shared to replace the conversation with your doctor...but to start one. If you live with IBS or fibro or any other "functional disorder"...it's worth having a chat with your doctor. The following article is not meant as direct medical advice, but shared for your personal information and entertainment. If you have any questions about what you read here...go talk to your doctor or other health care professionals.
Knots grip your arms and legs, and your muscles ache. Your belly has cramps, too. Could the pain be connected? If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or fibromyalgia, it’s likely you have the other one, too. They often happen together, but how they are related is not understood.
Only a small amount of people in the U.S. have fibromyalgia. But for people with IBS it’s much more common. Over half of IBS patients also have symptoms of fibromyalgia.
“In general, it is likely that they coexist for years, but they can flare at the same time or at different times,” says Lin Chang, MD, co-director of the Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress.
IBS and fibromyalgia fall into a broad category called functional disorders. This is when your body isn’t working as it should, but doctors can’t see anything wrong with you.
The pain of IBS is centered inside your body, in the internal organs. With fibromyalgia you have another kind of pain, which is in the skin and deep tissue. Even though the source of discomfort stems from different places, researchers and doctors believe their causes are related.
In the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Daniel Clauw MD, director of the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center at the University of Michigan, writes that many pain experts believe that they are a single lifelong disorder that causes pain in different places over time.
How Are They Related?
With both conditions, you have more brain activity in the parts that process pain. Your sense of pain can be enhanced.
The exact problem is not well understood, but in these functional disorders, your nervous system is overly sensitive or hyperactive. Your immune systems is thought to play a role, and doctors are looking at genetics, too.
Stress can lead to any of these functional disorders. In one survey, more than half of fibromyalgia patients reported symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, a condition that affects the brain.
What Can You Do?
Antidepressants can help both IBS and fibromyalgia. You could also have trouble with sleeping, headaches, anxiety, and depression, so talk to your doctor about prescription medicines that could help.
As odd as it may seem, pain medicines like opioids are not very effective. Over-the-counter NSAID pain medications like ibuprofen or aspirin don’t work well by themselves, but they can be used with antidepressants to treat fibromyalgia.
Focus on treating both the physical and the mental symptoms equally. Learn all you can about these disorders. The more you know about your condition, the better you will be able to take care of yourself.
Exercise will help, especially cardio. It gets your heart rate up and builds your muscle strength. But start out slowly. You can also try yoga or tai chi. Chang says she sometimes recommends meditation, which can calm the mind and the body.
Stay open to trying all the treatments your doctor suggests, even if you have to do more than one at a time. The usual treatments like drugs and surgery may not help.
By Katherine Tweed
WebMD Feature Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD