How to Get In Tune with Your Body & Treat Stomach Cramping

A recent survey says a third of Canadian Women are confused by their cramps

How to Get In Tune with Your Body & Treat Stomach Cramping

Everyone can relate to occasional abdominal cramping and can agree that stomach pain can sometimes be intense. And not the “wait 30-minutes-and-move on” kind. The kind that knocks you off your routine and forces your day into a completely different direction.

According to a recent 2015 Leger Poll conducted on behalf of Buscopan, abdominal pain or cramping is a weekly occurrence for some Canadian women – and something that can unravel their daily routine. The intensity of pain associated with cramping ranges too - anything from stubbing a toe all the way to childbirth.

The same survey found that more than 8 out of 10 Canadian women suffer from gastrointestinal or abdominal cramps and one third are sometimes confused about the source of their pain when they experience gastrointestinal / abdominal cramps.

This is why it's important for us to try and understand what is going on in our stomach. 

Stomach (abdominal) cramps are common, and in many cases, abdominal cramps can be temporary or short-term. Abdominal cramps are caused by sudden, irregular tightening of the smooth muscles in the stomach and bowel.

Given the confusion over their abdominal cramps and pain it’s no wonder that many women (69 per cent) are trying to treat their cramps or pain with options not designed to treat stomach cramping. From antacids to pain medication, and home remedies too, women are trying to find the right treatment. Twenty-three per cent of women are doing nothing at all and five per cent feel they can’t find a cure.

It is important for us to tune in to our bodies to better understand what is going on and stop treating all pain the same. Recognizing triggers – be it food, stress or overworked stomach muscles and the associated pain is the first step to getting it under control.  

The good news is there are actions you can take to avoid ongoing pain. Here are five to help keep abdominal pain and cramps away.

1. Stay happy

Your stomach is responsible for 95% of your body’s serotonin supply and if you aren’t feeling well, it communicates unhappiness to the brain which in turn, can lead to pain. It is important to remember that pain is often a message from our body and it’s important to understand what the message means so we can act to prevent the problem in the future.

2. Identify triggers

Our bodies are different – pain is a message from your body so it is important to try and identify triggers to help avoid stomach cramps. In many cases, abdominal pain due to cramps can be temporary or short-term. Stress, family issues or eating food that is very spicy, acidic or that has a high fat content can cause temporary pain.

3. Avoid Stressors

Lifestyle management is an important key to managing stomach pain. For some, stress can cause cramping and pain if they are allowed to take over.

4. Stop treating all pain the same

Different pains call for different treatments. Buscopan is a product designed to relax the tight, cramping muscles in the stomach, intestine and bowel.

5. See your doctor/pharmacist

When in doubt, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your abdominal cramps or pain. Take a look at this infographic for more important stomach pain info and more results from the 2015 Leger Poll:

Recurrant stomach pain and cramping can be managed and avoided if you know how to do so. By following the steps above, you can get on the right path to taking control and living stomach cramp free.

Dr. Jeff Habert is a Family Physician in Thornhill for the last 25 years. He is an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. Dr. Habert is also Peer Assessor for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and an Investigating Coroner for the City of Toronto. He is also a Peer Leader at Ontario MD.