Motility Dysfunction

This relates to the speed of the contractions of the muscles in the intestinal system.  In terms of motility dysfunction in IBS, reseach points to the following being found in IBS sufferers.  Colonic contractions are too fast in people with diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D) and too slow in people with constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C). In addition to the obvious, this motility dysfunction seems to start as early as the small intestine.  

Motility Triggers

The most common factors which  trigger changes in motility, whether you have IBS or not:


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Rapid intestinal contractions

Shorter transit time for food through the small intestine and colon

No difference in gastric emptying rate

No difference in stool weight

Rapid transit time contributes to abdominal pain

Motility as a Diagnostic Tool

Now for the bad news: Nothing with IBS ever seems clear-cut. Although research has for the most part supported the above trends, there have been some inconsistencies. Since these motility differences seem to be based on common sense, it may be that the inconsistencies seen in motility research are simply due to difficulties in accurately measuring intestinal contractions. Unfortunately, this measurement difficulty and the existence of these inconsistent findings prevent the measurement of motility as being a definitive tool (biological marker) for an IBS diagnosis.

Future Research

The good news is that while motility difficulties made up a large part of early research into IBS, research has since expanded into more complex areas. It is now thought that the motility dysfunction in IBS is entwined with visceral sensitivity issues, both of which are affected by dysfunction in the complex connections between the brain (central nervous system) and the gut (enteric nervous system). As new clues as to the reasons behind the motility dysfunction seen in IBS emerge, this opens the possibilities for more effective treatment strategies.

Motility Dysfunction in relation to IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Visceral Hypersensitivity and IBS