What are the characteristics of abdominal pain in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Updated: Dec 11, 2019
  • Author: Jenifer K Lehrer, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Abdominal pain in IBS is protean, but may have the following characteristics:

  • Pain frequently is diffuse without radiation

  • Common sites of pain include the lower abdomen, specifically the left lower quadrant

  • Acute episodes of sharp pain are often superimposed on a more constant dull ache

  • Meals may precipitate pain

  • Defecation commonly improves pain but may not fully relieve it

  • Pain from presumed gas pockets in the splenic flexure may masquerade as anterior chest pain or left upper quadrant abdominal pain

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