Other Constipation Treatments
Bowel Retraining, Surgery, Kegels, and more
For those who routinely ignore the urge to empty their bowels, healthy new habits may have to be formed. Bowel retraining programs aim to improve the quality of stool and establish a regular time for bowel movements.
Patients begin the process by having a complete physical examination, to rule out the possibility of any other treatable disorders. They should go over their bowel habits with the doctor and set up a schedule to promote increased regularity. A set time needs to be established and followed for daily bowel movements. The ideal time is anywhere from 20-40 minutes after a meal, as eating stimulates bowel movements. Alternatively, the person should find a time when he or she can be relaxed and unhurried. Privacy is also important so the patient does not feel under pressure of any kind.
Digital stimulation may be tried to coax a bowel movement. This involves inserting a gloved finger into the anus and making a circular motion. If nothing has happened after 20 minutes, the digital stimulation may be repeated. It may be helpful to relax in the bathroom with a book or magazine and wait for the elimination reflex to return. It is best not to strain, though it can be helpful to bend forward while pushing down.
Kegel exercises, which are designed to strengthen the pelvic and rectal muscles, may help some people achieve greater bowel control. You have to learn the proper techniques to see any results. Originally, these exercises were recommended to help women control incontinence after childbirth.
If it is discovered that the cause of constipation is due to certain medicines taken by the patient, the doctor may try to change the dosage or find suitable substitutes which ease or eliminate the likelihood of developing constipation.
Biofeedback for Constipation
Biofeedback is a painless method that has been shown to help some people who suffer from constipation by retraining their rectal muscles. Various events in life, such as disease, old age or an accident, may disrupt a person's ability to maintain control over the bowel function.
Biofeedback provides the patient with information about his or her body through visual or auditory feedback. It involves working with a trained therapist who uses a computer and video monitor to show the patient his or her bodily functions. The therapist attaches sensors in the rectal area to help the patient feel the stool and pass it successfully through the rectum. An electrode may also be attached to the abdomen. The therapist helps the patient to modify his or her bodily responses until they become more regular. Biofeedback can teach patients how to use their bowel and anal muscles again, in order to improve their ability to defecate.
For individuals with chronic or extreme constipation caused by diseases of the colon or laxative abuse, surgery may be the final treatment. This serious option involves removing most of the colon. Like any surgery, the benefits must be weighed against the risks, which may include ongoing abdominal pain and diarrhea.