Splenic flexure syndrome is a condition in which gas builds up in a part of the colon called the splenic flexure. This can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and discomfort.

The splenic flexure is a part of the large intestine that consists of a bend near an organ called the spleen. Gas may build up in this area for many reasons, including possible aspects of a person’s diet.

Splenic flexure syndrome has similar symptoms to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Diagnosis usually involves imaging tests and other tests to rule out other gastrointestinal (GI) conditions that could be causing the symptoms.

This article will review splenic flexure syndrome, including its symptoms and causes, and provide answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQ). The article will also explain how doctors diagnose and treat this condition and what exercise people can do to help prevent it.

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The splenic flexure is the sharp bend that connects the transverse colon to the descending colon. This bend is in the upper abdomen and forms a part of the GI system. It sits near the spleen, an organ that mainly filters the blood. Many blood vessels come together in this part of the body.

Since the splenic flexure is a bend in the colon, gas has the potential to build up there. However, an excessive gas buildup may cause the onset of splenic flexure syndrome. Doctors have recognized splenic flexure syndrome as a type of IBS.

Splenic flexure syndrome can often cause general discomfort in the abdominal area. The symptoms of splenic flexure syndrome may include:

  • bloating
  • abdominal fullness
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • flatulence
  • fever
  • abdominal cramps

If a person experiences a sudden worsening of their discomfort or the pain becomes intolerable, they should seek medical attention.

The primary cause of splenic flexure syndrome is the buildup of gas in the colon. This gas pushes on the lining of the GI tract and can cause distention of the colon, which may put pressure on nearby organs.

This pressure on the surrounding organs can cause pain and discomfort. When a person with splenic flexure syndrome manages to pass the gas trapped in their colon, they usually experience an improvement in their symptoms.

Gas buildup in the GI tract has several other possible causes. It may occur if a person:

  • drinks fizzy drinks
  • eats or drinks too quickly
  • swallows air
  • consumes an excessive amount of alcohol
  • chews gum
  • smokes
  • wears loose-fitting dentures
  • has a GI disorder such as celiac disease or lactose intolerance
  • has a bacterial infection

There is no specific procedure for diagnosing splenic flexure syndrome. Doctors typically start by ruling out other possible causes of abdominal discomfort, such as heart or GI conditions.

Doctors may also ask questions about the onset of a person’s symptoms and about the person’s eating and lifestyle habits.

The most common tests for diagnosing splenic flexure syndrome focus on finding the source of the discomfort. These include:

  • CT scan
  • barium enema
  • X-rays

A barium enema may be useful to improve the quality of the X-ray images. Specifically, it helps healthcare professionals view the lower intestinal tract more accurately.

There is no specific treatment for splenic flexure syndrome. However, as with other types of IBS, diet and lifestyle changes may help improve symptoms. Doctors may prescribe laxatives to relieve constipation and medications to relieve pain.

About 65% of people with IBS experience flare-ups of symptoms after consuming certain types of food.

Doctors may recommend avoiding certain foods, such as those high in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs). A 2017 meta-analysis found that reducing consumption of foods high in FODMAPs can improve IBS symptoms.

Food high in FODMAPs include:

  • legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans
  • certain vegetables, including cabbage, onions, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and artichokes
  • dairy products containing lactose, such as cheese, milk, yogurt, and ice cream
  • wheat- and rye-based products such as bread, pasta, and cereals
  • dried fruit
  • canned fruit
  • sweeteners
  • honey and corn syrup
  • fruits high in fructose, such as apples, mangos, peaches, pears, plums, and watermelon

Doctors may also recommend eating a gluten-free diet and limiting consumption of drinks containing alcohol or caffeine. Fizzy drinks can also contribute to gas buildup in the GI tract.

Practicing yoga or tai chi may help release the gas trapped in the GI tract. Relaxation exercises may help reduce the tension in the abdominal muscles and induce gas release.

Yoga positions that may induce gas release include:

  • Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby)
  • Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)
  • Ardha Apanasana (Knee to Chest)
  • Balasana (Child’s Pose)
  • Supta Matsyendrasana (Spinal Twist)
  • Uttanasana (Forward Fold)

Find a detailed guide to performing some yoga poses to pass gas here.

Here are some common questions about splenic flexure:

What does splenic flexure pain feel like?

Generally, people feel pain only when there is a problem with the splenic flexure. People with splenic flexure syndrome may experience bloating, fullness, and abdominal cramping. The pain may range from mild to severe.

What is splenic flexure syndrome gas?

Gas buildup in the colon is responsible for the symptoms of splenic flexure syndrome.

Is splenic flexure serious?

Typically, splenic flexure syndrome is not a life threatening condition. However, in some people, it can cause severe abdominal pain.

Splenic flexure syndrome is a digestive disorder with links to IBS. People with this condition tend to experience a buildup of gas in their colon. This can cause bloating and severe abdominal pain.

Doctors do not consider splenic flexure syndrome a life threatening condition. However, it can cause severe abdominal pain and discomfort. This condition has no specific cure, but lifestyle and dietary strategies can help reduce the symptoms.

If a person with this condition experiences worsening symptoms or if lifestyle changes do not improve their symptoms, they should consult a doctor.