Low grade inflammation in the bowel, diarrhoea and constipation can all lead to the lower abdominal pain and discomfort felt by IBS sufferers. In addition to traditional painkillers, many of the drugs used to treat IBS pain belong to a group called antispasmodics, as gastrointestinal pain often results from contraction of the muscles in the bowel. If one of your main symptoms is constipation, it is important to avoid codeine-based painkillers, as these can worsen constipation and pain.
Colpermin: One of the antispasmodics your doctor may prescribe for ibs pain relief is colpermin. This drug is made from peppermint oil, which relaxes the muscles of the bowel. It also reduces the size of gas bubbles in the gut, which helps to relieve cramping lower abdominal pain. Possible side effects you may experience include heartburn and irritation of your back passage.
Buscopan: Another effective antispasmodic is hyoscine butylbromide (Buscopan), which you can get over the counter, or prescribed by your doctor. Taken before meals, Buscopan also works to relax the muscles of the bowel to relieve cramping gastrointestinal pain. It is important that you discuss the use of this drug with your doctor before buying it over the counter, as there are many other health conditions which mean you shouldn’t take it.
Mebeverine: taken before each meal, is another medication for IBS pain relief. It works in much the same way as buscopan and colpermin, to relax the bowel and relieve cramps. Common side effects of mebeverine include heartburn and constipation.
Blocking IBS Pain Signals to the Brain
Your doctor may also prescribe a low dose of drugs work to block the pain signals sent from the gut to the brain. These medicines are usually only prescribed if your symptoms are severe and frequent. In this situation, it is thought that the nerves in the gut are over-sensitive. This is called visceral hypersensitivity.
As well as traditional clinical treatments, there is increasing support for the use of IBS acupuncture to treat the gastrointestinal pain people suffer with. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicinal treatment where very fine needles are inserted into precise points in the body thought to treat a variety of conditions. It is thought that it may treat IBS by regulating the motility of the digestive tract, reducing anxiety, and relaxing the muscles in the bowel. Many patients are now choosing IBS acupuncture in addition to their medication to maximise symptom relief for their lower abdominal pain. If you choose to investigate this option, please ensure you go to a reputable, knowledgeable acupuncturist. We are able to recommend medically qualified specialists who offer acupuncture.