According to the Encyclopedia Britannica website, the sigmoid colon is situated at the terminal end of the large intestine. The sigmoid colon links the descending colon with the rectum, and it is responsible for storing fecal material until this material is ready to be voided. Certain medical conditions can affect the sigmoid colon, causing pain and discomfort. In some cases, sigmoid colon conditions can be life-threatening.
Ulcerative colitis can cause pain in the sigmoid colon. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, or NIDDK, ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory condition in which sores form on the inside lining of the rectum and colon. Ulcers manifest in gut locations where inflammation has killed normal, healthy gut tissue. Ulcers generate both blood and pus. The NIDDK states that intestinal inflammation usually causes frequent emptying of the colon or diarrhea. One of the most common locations for ulcerative colitis is the sigmoid colon. Possible signs and symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis include abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, anorexia or loss of appetite, bleeding from the rectum, skin problems and joint pain. According to the NIDDK, approximately 50 percent of people with ulcerative colitis experience only mild symptoms.
Diverticular disease can cause pain in the sigmoid colon. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons or ASCRS states that diverticular disease, which includes both diverticulosis and diverticulitis, is associated with pockets or diverticula that develop in a person's intestinal walls. Diverticulosis is the presence of these pockets, while diverticulitis is inflammation of the diverticulae. The most common location for diverticulae is the sigmoid colon and descending colon, although any part of the colon may be affected. A person with diverticulosis may not experience any symptoms. However, according to the ASCRS, common signs and symptoms associated with diverticulitis include abdominal pain, chills, fever and changes in bowel habits. In some cases, diverticular disease can cause serious health complications, such as bowel rupture or perforation and abscess or fistula formation--an abnormal connection between the large intestine and another tissue or organ.
Sigmoid Colon Cancer
Sigmoid colon cancer can cause pain in the sigmoid colon. According to the Cancer Archive website, sigmoid colon cancer is the presence of cancerous cells within the sigmoid region of the colon. There are three distinct stages of sigmoid colon cancer, including small tumors that have not penetrated the colon's mucosal layer, tumors that have penetrated the colon's muscle wall and cancer that's spread to the lymph nodes near the sigmoid colon. Certain risk factors increase a person's likelihood for developing colon cancer, including diets lacking fiber, co-existing medical conditions such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, hereditary disorders and the presence of certain types of intestinal polyps or growths. Common signs and symptoms associated with sigmoid colon cancer include abdominal pain and tenderness, bloody stools, diarrhea, intestinal obstruction and recent, unexplained weight loss.