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- Trouble having a bowel movement
- Repeated bowel accidents
- Swollen abdomen
- Feeling full (not hungry) quickly
- Loose stools or very hard stools
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Abdominal pain
- Ask about your symptoms and medical history
- Do a physical exam
- Rectal exam
- Test to check for blood in the stool
- Providing effective ways to have a bowel movement
- Preventing bowel accidents
- Establishing a predictable bowel movement schedule
- Follow a certain diet and physical activity plan
- Be given a combination of medicines to promote bowel function
- Undergo digital stimulation to cause a bowel movement
- Work with your healthcare team to find an ideal time for going to the bathroom and position to use when having a bowel movement
- Participate in other methods to encourage bowel movement (eg, doing push-ups, massaging the abdomen, deep breathing, drinking warm fluids, sitting in a forward-leaning position)
- Stool softeners—soften the stool to make bowel movement easier
- Colonic stimulants—stimulate the colon to move the stool through the digestive tract faster
- Osmotic laxatives—pull water into the intestines to increase stool bulk
- Bulk formers—increase stool bulk
- Suppositories—stimulate the nerves in the rectum lining
- Enemas—stimulate the nerves and soften stool
- Colostomy—An opening is made from the colon to the surface of the body. The opening acts like an anus where solid waste is removed.
- Ileostomy—An opening is made from the small intestine to the surface of the body.
- Wearing seat belts
- Avoiding activities that can put you at risk for injuring your spine
National Association for Continence http://www.nafc.org/
United Spinal Association http://www.unitedspinal.org/
BC Health Guide http://www.bchealthguide.org/
Canadian/American Spinal Research Organization http://www.csro.com/
Benevento BT, Sipski ML. Neurogenic bladder, neurogenic bowel, and sexual dysfunction in people with spinal cord injury. Phys Ther . 2002;82(6):601-612.
LaRusso L. Neurogenic bladder—adult. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated September 20, 2010. Accessed January 26, 2011.
Neurogenic bowel management in adults with spinal cord injury. National Guideline Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=850 . Updated December 1, 1998. Accessed June 26, 2011.
Neurogenic bowel: what you should know. A guide for people with spinal cord injury. Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine website. Available at: http://www.scicpg.org/cpg%5Fcons%5Fpdf/BWLC.pdf . Accessed June 26, 2011.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD
- Review Date: 12/2013
- Update Date: 01/13/2014