How Does Nervous Bowel Syndrome Differ From a Bowel Obstruction?

Nervous bowel syndrome differs from a bowel obstruction in that irritable bowel syndrome is a benign condition not caused by any structural abnormality, according to Cleveland Clinic. A bowel obstruction can be caused by scar tissue, tumors or a bowel that has been twisted or narrowed by such conditions as Crohn's disease, according to WebMD. The symptoms of bowel obstruction in the small intestine can mimic nervous bowel syndrome, but the order and timing of the symptoms are different.

Nervous bowel, or nervous colon, syndrome is also called irritable bowel syndrome, according to MedicineNet. When a bowel is obstructed, it stops feces, food, gas and fluids from moving through the lower gastrointestinal tract, explains WebMD. If the obstruction is in the small intestine, the reason is usually scarring. If it's in the large intestine, the reason is often a malignancy. Sometimes, the intestine telescopes in on itself and causes an obstruction.

A bowel obstruction can also be life-threatening because it can cut off the blood supply to the intestine or even perforate it, notes WebMD. However, most bowel obstructions resolve on their own. If they persist, a doctor may treat them with enemas or stents. In severe cases where the blood supply has been cut off, surgery is used to remove the damaged part of the bowel.