Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic health disorder affecting the digestive system (gut). Common symptoms of IBS include gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation, abdominal discomfort/pain or cramping. Many people with IBS experience worsening symptoms when they eat certain foods—including gluten, wheat products, dairy products, citrus, beans, cabbage and carbonated drinks—or when they are under a lot of stress.
It’s not clear what causes IBS. Potential factors that may lead to IBS symptoms include early exposure to trauma or stressful life events, severe infections, bacterial overgrowth or changes in the gut, abnormal muscle contractions in the intestines and dysregulated signals sent between the brain and the gut. Certain people may be more at risk of developing IBS, including females, people under the age of 50, people with a family history of IBS and people with mental health conditions. IBS affects an estimated 25 to 45 million people in the United States, mostly women.
IBS can cause physical and emotional distress that negatively affects a person’s quality of life. The often unpredictable nature of IBS can also be incredibly inconveniencing. People with IBS are significantly more likely to miss work than people without persistent digestive problems, and often feel depressed or anxious about their condition. For individuals with more moderate to severe IBS symptoms, they may experience malnourishment and nutrient deficiencies.
The good news is that most people with IBS can manage their symptoms through lifestyle interventions, including exercise, diet modifications and stress reduction techniques. Others can benefit from manual therapy, counseling, medications or a combination of multiple approaches.
Did you know pelvic floor physical therapy may help you manage your irritable bowel syndrome? To learn more, contact ITR Physical Therapy of Bethesda, MD and McLean, VA and schedule an appointment today!