Clinical approach to visceral pain in irritable bowel syndrome – pathophysiology, symptoms, and treatment
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Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Department of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology and Transplantology, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Department of Neurology, District Hospital, Lubartów, Poland
Student Research Association, Medical University of Lublin, Poland
Department of Expert Medical Assistance with Emergency Medicine Unit, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Department of Nephrology, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Department of Clinical Endoscopy, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland
Corresponding author
Andrzej Prystupa   

Department of Internal Medicine, Medical University, Lublin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2013;20(Special Issue 1):8-13
Visceral pain has been defined as a pain resulting from activation of pain receptors localized in mucous membrane, serous membrane, and smooth muscles of hollow organs. The great majority of these organs are innervated by parasympathetic and sympathetic outflows. Afferent nerve fibres are involved in conduction of both acute and persistent pain and hyperalgesia. Visceral pain differs significantly from other types of pain in the way it originates and in clinical presentation. It can be misleading as a symptom, producing several problems in the diagnostic process. Sometimes, severe visceral pain is observed in the course of non-lifethreatening functional gastrointestinal disorders, while slight abdominal discomfort may be a first symptom of malignant tumours. For many years, the treatment of visceral pain has been considered as not satisfactory enough and covered a wide variety of pharmacological substances. For example, the complex therapy of pain and other manifestations associated with irritable bowel syndrome include psychotherapy/behavioural therapy, bulk-forming agents, probiotics, laxatives, antidiarrheals, antibacterial agents, antispasmodics, and antidepressants. The current knowledge about the pathogenesis of visceral pain gives a rationale for the development of new, more efficacious drugs with a positive benefit/risk ratio. Unfortunately, experience gained so far with the use of some agents affecting serotoninergic transmission in the gastrointestinal tract have shown a serious danger associated with their administration for patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
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