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Where is sigmoid colon pain felt?

Sigmoid colon pain, also known as sigmoid pain, refers to pain originating from the sigmoid colon. The sigmoid colon is the part of the large intestine that connects the descending colon to the rectum. It is an S-shaped section located in the lower left part of the abdomen.

What is the sigmoid colon?

The sigmoid colon is the final portion of the colon before reaching the rectum. It is an S-shaped curve located in the lower left quadrant of the abdomen. The main functions of the sigmoid colon are:

  • Absorption of water, nutrients, and electrolytes from chyme (partially digested food)
  • Storage of feces
  • Elimination of waste material

The sigmoid colon connects the descending colon to the rectum. It measures around 40 cm in length. Pain originating from this section of the colon is known as sigmoid pain or sigmoid colon pain.

What causes sigmoid colon pain?

There are several potential causes of sigmoid colon pain, including:

Sigmoid volvulus

Sigmoid volvulus refers to twisting of the sigmoid colon, which can obstruct flow and lead to abdominal pain. It often occurs in elderly patients or those with chronic constipation.


Diverticula are small pouches that can form in the colon wall. Diverticulitis results when these pouches become inflamed or infected, leading to abdominal pain, tenderness, and changes in bowel habits.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

IBS is a chronic disorder affecting the large intestine. It causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. The pain is often felt on the lower left side.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

IBD refers to chronic inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. They cause inflammation in the GI tract, leading to ongoing sigmoid pain.


Chronic constipation can cause painful straining during bowel movements. The pain is often localized around the sigmoid colon.


Colorectal cancer can lead to obstruction, inflammation, and distension of the sigmoid colon. This results in persistent lower abdominal pain.

Intestinal infection

Viral, bacterial or parasitic infections in the sigmoid colon can also trigger abdominal cramping and discomfort.

Where is sigmoid colon pain located?

Since the sigmoid colon resides in the lower left quadrant of the abdomen, sigmoid pain is classically felt in the lower left abdominal area. However, its precise location may vary slightly among individuals.

Some common areas where sigmoid pain is felt include:

  • Left lower quadrant of the abdomen
  • Below the belly button on the left side
  • Along the descending colon
  • Around the hip/groin region on the left side
  • Rectum (during bowel movements)

The pain can be localized or diffuse, depending on the underlying cause. It may be accompanied by abdominal tenderness upon palpation of the lower left quadrant.

What are the characteristics of sigmoid colon pain?

The characteristics of sigmoid pain often provide clues regarding the potential cause:

Cramping pain

Spasmodic, crampy pain that comes and goes is typical of IBS or obstruction from sigmoid volvulus.

Dull, aching pain

Persistent, dull pain suggests an inflammatory process like diverticulitis, IBD or infection.

Sharp pain

Sudden, severe and sharp pain can indicate rupture or perforation of the sigmoid colon.


Tenesmus refers to the feeling of incomplete evacuation after a bowel movement. It implies an obstruction or narrowing in the sigmoid colon.

Pain with bowel movements

Pain that worsens during or after a bowel movement can indicate diverticulitis, IBS, hemorrhoids, anal fissures or rectal cancer.

When to seek medical care

It is important to consult a doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Intense or persistent abdominal pain
  • Constipation lasting more than 3 days
  • Bloody/black stools
  • Nausea, vomiting or inability to pass gas
  • Fever higher than 100.4°F (38°C)
  • Dizziness, weakness or abdominal swelling

These can indicate a serious medical condition requiring emergency care. Prompt evaluation and treatment can help prevent complications like sepsis, bowel perforation or paralysis of the colon.

How is the cause of sigmoid colon pain diagnosed?

To determine the underlying reason for sigmoid pain, the doctor will begin with a review of your medical history and a physical examination. Further testing may include:

  • Blood tests: Check for inflammation and rule out infection
  • Stool analysis: Look for blood, infectious organisms or cancer cells
  • CT scan: Visualizes blockages, twisting, inflammation and diverticula
  • Colonoscopy: Directly inspects the lining of the sigmoid colon
  • Sigmoidoscopy: Examines the rectum and lower colon
  • Barium enema: Uses x-ray images after filling the colon with barium contrast

Based on the test results, the doctor can determine the appropriate treatment.

How is sigmoid colon pain treated?

Treatment depends on the cause but may involve:

  • Medications: Antibiotics for infection, anti-inflammatories for IBD, laxatives for constipation
  • Bowel rest: Liquid diet followed by gradual reintroduction of foods
  • Surgery: For severe twisting, rupture, cancer or rectal prolapse
  • Lifestyle changes: More exercise, high-fiber diet, probiotics, hydration
  • Stress management: Relaxation techniques, counseling for IBS

Seeking proper medical treatment can help resolve acute sigmoid colon pain and minimize the risk of recurrence. Lifestyle modifications may be needed for chronic conditions like IBS.

What is the outlook for sigmoid colon pain?

The prognosis for sigmoid pain depends on the underlying cause:

  • Simple spasms from IBS or menstrual periods often resolve with conservative treatment
  • Diverticulitis may recur but responds well to antibiotics and diet changes
  • Volvulus requires urgent treatment but generally has good outcomes with surgery
  • Cancer can be cured if caught early before spreading to other organs
  • IBD like Crohn’s follows a relapsing-remitting course and requires long-term management

By identifying and addressing the root problem, most cases of sigmoid colon pain can be successfully managed. Periodic colon cancer screening is advised, especially in high-risk individuals.


Although not all cases of sigmoid colon pain can be prevented, the following measures can reduce your risk:

  • Eat more fiber – Fruits, vegetables and whole grains help prevent constipation
  • Drink plenty of fluids – Adequate hydration keeps the stool soft
  • Exercise regularly – Physical activity stimulates the colon and bowels
  • Manage stress – Anxiety and tension can worsen IBS symptoms
  • Avoid straining – Prevent hemorrhoids and anal fissures
  • Don’t smoke – Smoking increases the risk of colon polyps and cancer
  • Limit alcohol – Excess alcohol can inflame the colon lining
  • Treat infections promptly – Reduce chances of colon irritation or inflammation

Seeing a doctor for persistent or worsening abdominal pain allows for earlier diagnosis and management.

When to see a doctor

Consult your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe, persistent or worsening lower abdominal pain
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • A change in your bowel habits lasting more than 2 weeks
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent diarrhea or constipation
  • Fever or vomiting

While occasional mild sigmoid colon pain may resolve on its own, worsening or prolonged symptoms need medical evaluation. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve outcomes and prevent complications.


Sigmoid colon pain refers to pain originating from the S-shaped sigmoid colon in the lower left abdomen. Potential causes include diverticulitis, IBS, constipation, volvulus, and cancer. The classic location is the left lower quadrant, but the pain may also be felt along the descending colon, near the groin, or in the rectum. Severe, persistent, or progressive symptoms should be evaluated promptly to determine appropriate treatment and avoid complications. With accurate diagnosis and proper management, sigmoid colon pain can often be relieved effectively.