There is no single treatment for pain, discomfort or other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A number of therapies have been shown to be useful is some people. Always be sure to ask your doctor about possible side effects, which can occur with any treatment. Results for IBS pain management vary from person to person.

Here are examples of approaches:

  • Relaxation therapy, hypnosis, or cognitive behavioral therapy can help improve pain tolerance.
  • Cognitive therapy and hypnotherapy, but not relaxation therapy, are more effective than usual care in relieving overall symptoms of IBS. There are no known serious adverse events associated with these therapies; however, their mechanisms of benefit remain unclear.
  • Try to improve sleep through better sleep hygiene: Patients with chronic pain report sleep as their number one problem. Learn More about sleep in IBS
  • Anticholinergic agents (for example, hyoscine, cimetropium, pinaverium and some peppermint oil preparations) taken before meals may provide short-term reduction of abdominal pain after meals. [Note: Peppermint oil capsules must be swallowed whole because the raw oil can cause intense heartburn.]
  • Probiotic products based on bifidobacteria and certain combinations of probiotics have shown some benefit to relieve pain and bloating.
  • Prescription drugs aimed at reducing overall symptoms, including abdominal pain, for IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D) include alosetron and eluxadoline. [Note: On March 15, 2017, the FDA issued a warning that due to increased risk for serious, potientially life-threatening, pancreatitis eluxadoline (Viberzi) should not be used in patients who do not have a gallbladder.]
  • Prescription drugs aimed at reducing overall symptoms, including abdominal pain, for IBS with constipation (IBS-C) include lubiprostone and linaclotide.
  • For severe IBS, antidepressants, in low doses, may be prescribed. The use of the antidepressant drug class for treatment of IBS symptoms is not linked to depression, but rather likely to effects on the brain and the gut. Antidepressant medications can reduce the intensity of pain signals going from gut to brain.

Not all persons with IBS report being very satisfied with available treatments for pain in IBS. There continues to be a pressing need to find new and more effective treatments for IBS.

Learn more, in-depth, about understanding and managing pain in IBS

IBS Patients: Their Illness Experience and Unmet Needs
Last modified on February 23, 2015 at 12:16:34 PM

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