CIC & the
Colon Muscle

Discover the muscle that plays a major role in our digestion – and how it may not move well enough in some people with Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC)


Living with
CIC isn't easy

CIC is a bowel condition with symptoms of bloating, straining, and difficult, infrequent or incomplete bowel movements. If you are one of the ~35 million adults in the U.S. living with CIC*, you may find the lack of complete relief from your symptoms frustrating.

*Based on global prevalence of 14%

If you've increased your water intake, made lifestyle changes and tried over‑the‑counter or prescription medications, you may still not be finding the symptom relief you want.

In fact, in a 2018 survey of 881 U.S. adults with CIC who had sought treatment for the condition, nearly 3 in 4 agreed that they “generally never feel well” because of their condition.

And the average time spent on the toilet by the majority of the people with CIC surveyed? 1+ hours — EACH DAY!

Data from an online survey, conducted by The Harris Poll from April 16 to June 6, 2018 on behalf of Shire, which included 881 U.S. adults diagnosed with CIC who had sought treatment

So what could
really be going on?

While there are many possible
causes of CIC such as low water
intake or poor diet, one of them may
come as a surprise—

Brace yourself...



A Closer Look
At the Colon

When it comes to CIC, talking to your doctor and understanding the role that the colon muscle plays can help put things in perspective.

The colon muscle moves involuntarily, similar to how our eyes, heart and lungs move on their own.

So how does the colon muscle move?
The layers of muscle that wrap around the colon aren't like your arm or leg muscles. They're a different type called “smooth” muscle, and they squeeze in coordinated patterns.

The colon is roughly about

*The length of the colon varies from person to person

The colon muscle layer is roughly

The “smooth”
colon muscle
two key jobs:

1. They mix things up


These mixing movements allow more

contact between digested contents and

colon walls, which assists with absorption.

2. They make things move

This is similar to how food moves down the throat, where muscles behind the food squeeze while those in front relax.

Think 1 mph feels slow? Some contractions travel

The colon is shaped like
an upside down U and the
colon muscle works both with
and against gravity to move
things through

The colon muscle contractions are typically most active during the day — especially after waking up or eating a meal — and are often contracting right before
“the urge to go”.

But when it comes to CIC,

studies have found that these

colon muscle contractions

may not happen often enough!

That's right.

The colon muscle keeps

us moving — but in people

with CIC, it may just not

move well enough. That's

the colon muscle connection.

That's right. The colon muscle keeps us moving — but in people with CIC, it may just not move well enough. That's the colon muscle connection.

So it could be
my colon muscle, now what?

As with any condition, your healthcare provider is your best source of information. And in order to provide them with helpful details, it's important to keep track of your symptoms. Over the next few weeks or months, try keeping a daily record of:

  • Diet, fiber and fluids
  • Treatments used, if any
  • Quality and “completeness” of bowel movements
  • Other symptoms (such as bloating, straining)

To help when talking with your doctor or
asking about how muscles make things move,
here's a simple CIC symptom tracker
you can fill out and bring to your
next visit.

Download Symptom Tracker