Does Colon Cancer Cause Back Pain?

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As the name implies, colon cancer is cancerous growth that occur in the large intestine (colon). It is relatively common in older adults. The bad news, there is usually no early symptom of the disease. On the other hand, early diagnosis is so essential for the outcome of patients. How about back pain? Does it have to do with colon cancer?

Understanding back pain in general

It is a common problem and even everyone can have it at some point in life. But what is the exact cause? The answer can be attributed by many factors.

image_illustration335Many times, it is a mild heath condition and even will improve naturally without treatment. But sometimes it could be serious, signaling life-threatening conditions such as cancer.

The back is so complex. It is made up of complex structures such as joints, nerves, and bones. For this reason, it’s not always easy to find the exact cause of the pain.

If the pain is mild, it will usually improve within several weeks. In such case, the problem is often associated with daily routines and treatment is not required.

While the cause is not always known, there are some risk factors that can make this pain more likely. These include:

  1. You are not at your best shape, especially being overweight. More extra pounds you have, more strain and stress that hit your joints, including your spine joints.
  2. Many pregnant women experience back pain, especially in their second and third trimesters.
  3. Having stress or/and depression may have an effect, too.
  4. The use of certain medications (especially ones that weaken your bones, like corticosteroids).
  5. Some bad lifestyles, particularly such as smoking. Cigarette smoking contains bad, harmful properties that can damage your back, one study suggest [1]. Furthermore, smokers are more likely to have other bad lifestyles that may double their risk of having back pain.

If the problem is mild, not linked to certain health condition, lifestyle measures are usually enough to help improve it. But if the pain persists or lasts longer than what you expect, see a doctor for more advice!

The link between your back and colon

Constipation is one of common problems related to the function of your colon. Many times, it occurs from slowly ‘transit time’ through the large intestine (colon).

In some cases, obstructive constipation causes back pain, even minor constipation may also have an effect on the back. Constipation can make a defecation become painful and this could be the starting point where the problem comes from.

If you have constipation, the stool moves through the colon and rectum hardly. You may need to strain to push it. This puts more pressure on your back. As a result, you may experience back pain.

The back is one of the most crucial cores of the body.  While sometimes constipation can lead to pain in the back, back pain may also have an effect in affecting the function of bowel and causing constipation [2]. Sometimes lower back muscle spasm may interfere with nerves that have function to stimulate intestinal action for bowel movement.

How does a cancer cause pain?

The cause of cancer pain may vary. But mostly, it occurs when the cancer presses certain organ or nerves in the body.

Furthermore, some cancer treatments may also have contribution to cause the pain. For instance, many types of chemotherapy medicines can lead to tingling and numbness.

These medicines also often cause a burning sensation if you take them with injection. Typically, it occurs at area where they are injected. Another cancer treatment, radiotherapy, can lead to skin irritation and redness.

However, the pain is not always linked to the cancer and its treatment. It may also occur naturally as a part of your general pains and aches which even healthy people can get from time to time.

Pain related to cancer can be classified into two main categories; acute and chronic pain.

Acute pain can be more painful, but it usually lasts a sort time. For example, surgical treatment for cancer can cause acute pain, but it will improve along with the recovery of the wound. In the meantime, you need to take painkillers for coping.

Chronic pain can come and go that ranges from severe to mild. It can continue long after injury or even when the treatment is over. In a few cases, it may become persistent pain that can be there all the time..

Colon cancer and back pain

If there is a cancerous growth in the spinal column, back pain could be one of the main symptoms. The expansion of the cancer in the bone may weaken the bone. As a result, there is greater chance for spinal fractures to occur. Moreover, this may also cause spinal instability and compression of the nerves.

How about colon cancer? Actually, your bowel — this includes your colon (large intestine) and rectum (last several inches of the colon) — has nothing to do with your back.

However, many people with cancers of colon and rectum experience back pain, too.

The bad news, if the pain in the back is caused by  a cancer, this may signal that the cancer has spread. Fortunately, the same thing doesn’t always go for colon cancer.

In fact, the spinal column and the back are not common areas where colon cancer spreads. If it does spread, the common areas for its metastasis are abdomen, pelvic, liver, and lungs.


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