What Causes Pain A Week After Colonoscopy?
Pain a week after colonoscopy is quite common.
According to a research by Dr. Cynthia W. at the University of Washington, Up to 7% of people undergoing colonoscopy can continue to experience pain or discomoforte for a week or more after colonoscopy.
for most of cases, the pain is of benign nature. today, we will break down the possible causes for pain continuing for a week or more after colonoscopy.
Common causes of pain a week after colonoscopy:
1- The colonoscopy prep. after effects.
Colonoscopy preparation involves complete clearance of your entire intestine and colon.
It may wash out the beneficial micro-organisms living inside your small and large intestine (ref).
The same study showed that the use of probiotics after colonoscopy significantly reduced the duration of pain after colonoscopy
Exactly, Probiotics reduced the pain days after colonoscopy from 2.78 days to 1.99 days on average.
Also, some of the colon preps may induce side effects as: nausea, vomiting, bloating, and dehydration.
Indigestion, Bloating, and abdominal cramps may result from the colon prep and last for more than a week.
2-Infection (especially after polypectomy or taking a biopsy).
Transient Bacteremia (leakage of some bacteria from the colon into blood) can occur after colonoscopy.
Common causes of bacteremia is the invasive procedures that can be done using colonoscopy. For example:
- Removing a large polyp.
- Taking a biobsy.
- Thermal ablasion for certain lesions and tumors by colonoscopy.
The above procedures, if done, can induce local inflammation or infection plus bacteremia.
And this can be a cause of prolong abdominal pain after colonoscopy (for a week or more).
Another cause of infection is the introduction of some harmful bacteria due to lack of proper disinfection of the colonoscopy.
The colonoscopy is hard to be cleaned. common organisms that cause colon infection includes E. coli, Klebsiella, and Enterobacter (ref).
Introduction of such pathogens can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea for a week or more after colonoscopy.
3- Anaesthesia after effects.
Too many options for anathesia after colonoscopy. ranging from no sedation to general anaesthesia:
- No sedation at all: very few people choose this.
- Light sedation: you’re slightly sleepy, but aware and can obey commands during the colonoscopy.
- Moderate sedation: a little bit more than light sedation.
- Deep sedation: you are unaware, but your body can respond to painful stimuli.
- Gerneral anaethesia: completely unaware and unresponsive to pain.
The issue here is with the latter method which involves taking some strong medications.
The strong anaesthetic mediations (especially opioids) can also affect the motility of your colon for days after colonoscopy.
Common effects of general anaesthesia or sedation medicaitons on your digestive tract includes:
- Nausea and maybe vomiting, which can be severe, and prolonged for days.
- Gas distension and bloating.
- Delayed gastric emptying.
- Abdominal pain and dyspepsia which can be prolonged for more than a week after colonoscopy.
4- Being a female.
Interestingly, this study found that being a female is a risk factor for prolonged pain after colonoscopy.
Females tend to feel and report pain more than male due to sex hormone differences.
So, the post colonoscopy pain, bloating, or abdominal discomfort can last more in females than males.
5- Prolonged colonoscopy procedure.
Also, the same study found prolonged colonoscopy is a risk factor for pain after colononscopy.
When your doctor takes more time performing the colonoscopy, you are more likely to experience pain.
Interestingly, Females were found to take more time in colonoscopy than males, which doubles the risk of post colonoscopy abdominal pain.
6- Coexisting irritable bowel syndrome.
Being an irritable bowel syndrome sufferer may contribute to prolonged abdominal pain after colonoscopy.
- Bowel prep can trigger an IBS flare up that lasts for a week or more after colonoscopy.
- Colonoscopy and air inflation during the procedure can also trigger an IBS flare-up.
- Some medications and sedation may also contribute.
Symptoms of IBS flare IBS:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort.
- abdominal pain is related to defecation (increases or decrease by going to the restroom).
- change in stool form (stool becomes more loose or hard).
- Change is stool frequency (some people will have diarrhea, others my experience absence of bowel movements for few days after colonoscopy).
- Bloating is also common.
7- Other co-existing diseases or conditions of the colon.
Many people get a regular screen after the age of 45 for colon cancer. But in many cases, you may had colonoscopy for a specific disease or condition such (ref):
- Crohn’s disease.
- Ulcerative colitis.
- Diverticular disease and diverticulitis.
- Colorectal cancer.
- chornic diarrhea or constipaiton.
- Idiopathic abdominal pain.
With all of the above indications for colonoscopy, the original disease will still exist after colonoscopy and may cause pain a week later.
So, think of the original condition you have rather than colonoscopy as a cause of abdominal pain a week after colonoscopy.
8- Other Rare causes:
Other rere conditions related to colonoscopy can cause prolonged pain. For example
- Bowel perforation.
- Post-polypectomy coagulation syndrome.
With Bowel perforation, the pain is usually very severe, sharp, starts immediately after recovering from anaesthesia.
So, it is unlikely for perforation to occur or to be felt for aweek after colonoscopy. as the condition is more severe, and progressive.
Signs of bowel perforation include (ref)
- Acute severe abdominal pain from the moment you recover from sedation.
- Rigid, tender abdomen.
- Maybe blood in stool.
- Bloating or localized swelling in your abdomen.
- Fever, Chills, or low body temperature
- Low blood pressure manifestation as shortness of breath, dizziness, confusion, cool and pale arms and legs.
- Severe nausea and vomiting.
Read This in-depth guide on signs of bowel perforation after colonoscopy.
Regarding post polypectomy Electrocoagulation syndrome; if your doctor cuts off a colon polyp, he’ll use a tool with electrical current to seal the area.
Sometimes, too much electrical current can cause some burning and inflammation to the wall of your colon (5).
When to call your Doctor.
- persistence of pain for a week with no obvious cause, is a reason to seek advice from your doctor about the possible cause.
- extreme or sharp abdominal pain or tenderness.
- severe nausea or vomiting.
- No Bowel movement for a week after colonoscopy.
- Severe diarrhea or blood in stool.
- Passage of blackish tarry stool.
- Shortness of breath, palpitation, confusion or fainting.
Quick tips to relieve pain after colonoscopy:
Provided that you don’t have any of the warning signs mentioned above, you can try these tips to relief the prolonged pain after colonoscopy
It is better to call your doctor to determine the cause and prescribe the suitable treatmen.
Being physically inactive after colonoscopy can cause more bloating and trapped gas.
Have a walk or light exercise at home, this defenately helps especially if you have bloating.
2- Avid eating this:
- Fast food such as burgers and Pizzas.
- Fried foods
- spicy foods
- Gas producing foods such as beans.
- Soda and carbonated bevereges.
3- Eat this instead:
- Mashed potatoes.
- Tender, cooked vegs.
- Scrambled eggs.
- Pudding and Popsicles.
- drink more water, fruit and vegetable juice.
4- Try Peppermint tea or oil:
Peppermint is known for its anti-spasmodic and anti-flatulent effects (ref).
Sipping a peppermint tea or taking a peppermint oil capsule can help with the prolonged abdominal pain after colonoscopy.
Also, it is a very good natural antispasmodic if you’re an IBS sufferer.
5- Take a probiotic:
probiotic can reverse the effects of colon prep (washing off the beneficial bacteria).
this is proved to decrease pain duration after colonoscopy and regain your gut health.
A probiotic containing Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species works best for your gut health.
This our recommended probiotic.
6- Consult your doctor about other prescription medications:
According to the cause of pain, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, stronger anti-spasmodic mediations based on your condtion.