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What is Constipation and Fecal Incontinence?

Fecal incontinence, also known as fecal leakage, is the involuntary leakage of solid or liquid stool from the rectum. The severity of the condition may vary from total loss of bowel control to leakage of a small amount of stool when passing gas. Fecal incontinence is often accompanied by constipation, which is characterized by infrequent or difficult bowel movements.

Causes of Constipation and Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence may be caused by weakness in the muscles of the pelvic floor that surround the anus and the rectum, muscle or nerve injury, underlying medical conditions, poor diet, and blockage of the colon by hard stools or tumors.

What to Expect from Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy for Treatment of Constipation and Fecal Incontinence?

A personalized pelvic floor physical therapy program will be recommended based on your specific diagnosis. The therapy may include the following:

  • Kegel Exercises: These exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles resulting in improved anal sphincter tone and reduced likelihood of fecal incontinence.
  • Biofeedback: Your pelvic floor muscle activity will be measured using electrodes and this information is used make you more aware of the correct way to control your anal muscles.
  • Muscle Strengthening Exercises: You will be taught special exercises to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic and anal area for better bowel control.
  • Electrical Stimulation: This involves using mild electric current to stimulate the nerves in the pelvic region that supply the rectal muscles to enhance bowel control.
  • Lifestyle Changes: You will be given advice on adding fiber to your diet, bowel training, and modification of activities to better manage your symptoms.

Outcomes of Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy for Treating Constipation and Fecal Incontinence

Depending on the cause and the severity of constipation and fecal incontinence, undergoing pelvic floor physical therapy along with other pelvic floor physical therapy treatments as recommended, may be sufficient to improve bowel control and reduce or eliminate your constipation symptoms.