Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Spastic colon: What does it mean?

What is spastic colon?

Updated: 02-19-2011

Answer

Spastic colon is another term for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common disorder characterized by abdominal cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea.

The term spastic colon describes the increase in spontaneous contractions (motility) of muscles in the small and large intestines associated with IBS. These contractions are sometimes called spasms. However, because IBS may also be associated with decreased motility, the term spastic colon isn't always accurate.

The cause and severity of IBS varies from person to person. Treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms, and may include diet changes, stress reduction, and anticholinergic or anti-diarrheal medications.