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Rectal or Colon Spasms (very painful!!!)

Posts: 201
Joined: Oct 2009

It has been about one year since I finished treatment. I had taxol and carbo and radiation both external and brachytherapy internally.
Last December shortly before my last chemo I had my first "attack" of what I would describe as having a rectal spasm or colon spasm.
The pain starts out tolerable and then escalates to unbearable and lasted about 30 minutes and the pain was a 10. I almost called 911.
Within 2 days of my 3 month check up ( which included a digital rectal exam) this pain came back. I told my gyn onc about it and she didn't seem to know what it was.
Since then I have had another 4 attacks and just recently again told the nurse practitioner about it and have an appointment with colo-rectal surgeon ( she had done my post treatment colonoscopy- ok except for a flat non cancerous polyp which was removed). Has anyone experienced this type of attack?
It doesn't seem to be related to eating or bowel habits.
The pain will come on even when I am sleeping. It is so intense that I can't even stand as I get faint and the only relief I get is by deep breathing and moaning in pain and praying for the 30 minutes to an hour to pass.
I think it is damage to my vagal nerve or something due to radiation.
Thank you for any experience or reading you have done on this topic.

fuzzytrouble's picture
Posts: 210
Joined: Feb 2009

Lori, so sorry you are having problems with those cramps they are no fun. I know what you are talking about, when I feel them coming on I cringe at the thought of the pain. I call them Charley horse bum cramps. I don't know what causes them either except that I have neuropathy and I do think it's something with the nerves. Mine last about 15 min. but not as long as yours. I laid off all the fiber I was eating to a lower residue and I haven't had a attack in a long time. I also had radiation in the pelvic area so who knows what is causing it. I hope they go away, but you are not alone. I feel like I need to go to the bathroom when I get them, do you feel the same way?
Hugs from Oregon

Posts: 201
Joined: Oct 2009

Thank you so much for your response. I feel intense pressure/pain but I don't actually have to have a bowel movement but when it starts it sort of feels like that pressure. Something tells me that it is dietary related like too much fiber or something but I definately feel it is nerve damage. I do have neuropathy in both of my feet also. It is just so unpredictable. I don't know what I would do if I got an attack at work--I would have to find someplace to lay down until it passed. I am happy to be NED and alive but I sure am not the same person physically. Thanks again for your reply to my inquiry. I am going the colon rectal surgeon and maybe be sent to a pelvic floor clinic at the UofMN.
One of the nurses I talked to said that I may need to work on some biofeedback to control it if it is related to the vegal nerve. Hope you are doing well. Maybe the attacks will lessen over time. All the best from Minnesota!

Kaleena's picture
Posts: 1227
Joined: Nov 2009


Did you have a hysterectomy? Also, when was your last CT or PET scan?

I know the pain you are experiencing. I had it last 30 minutes too. When the symptoms come on, its already too late to take a strong pain medicine. You almost feel like you are going to pass out.

I always have problems with scarring. Do you think it could be scar tissue?

I hope your attacks are few and far between and lessen each time.


Posts: 1
Joined: May 2012

I have had radioactive iodine, or RAI 5 times for thyroid cancer.  I never had these spasms before then, and also developed a gluten sensitivity....part of it, I think.  I used some under the tongue drops called Hyoscyamine Sulfate.  They work great.  Blessings to you, and to all of us, in our journies.  Hope this helps.

lkchapman's picture
Posts: 105
Joined: Jan 2011

Hi Lori,

I have had these episodes since I turned about 40 and I call them Ass cramps!  The pain is actually called proctalgia fugax and for me it really got bad during and right after radiation. It's a benign condition but boy it sure is painful and has a tendency to wake you out of a sound sleep. My aunt sent out a family email asking if any in our family had the same symptoms and oddly enough many of my cousins have the same problem. I believe it must run in families.  I have found that sitting on the toilet and pushing as if I am having a bowel movement helps to relieve some of the pain. I think what is happening is the anal sphinter that normally remains closed spasms open. You might google the condition for more info.

Hang in there.


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