While there can be many medical reasons for bowel disorders, physical therapists at Zion Physical Therapy are able to evaluate and treat the musculoskeletal components of bowel dysfunction. Physical therapy can be successful in identifying and treating musculoskeletal dysfunctions such as tightness or weakness in the abdomen, low back or pelvic floor musculature caused by IBS, constipation, and other bowel disorders.  Treatments such as myofascial release, biofeedback, trigger point release in the abdomen, back, gluteals, and pelvic floor, and neuromuscular re-education of these muscle groups can be very successful in minimizing and/or eliminating symptoms.

Your physical therapist will coordinate care with your gastroenterologist and dietician or nutritionist to address all aspects of bowel dysfunction.

Bowel symptoms/diagnoses:

  • Dyssenergia: failure of pelvic floor muscles to relax, sometimes with a paradoxical contraction of the pelvic floor muscles with defecation.
  • Bowel frequency, bowel urgency, bowel retention, and/or incomplete emptying
  • Constipation:   May result from tight and/or weakened pelvic floor and abdominal musculature or due to incoordination of these muscles called “dyssynergia”.
  • Rectal pain, low back pain, hip pain, stomach pain and/or abdominal pain
  • Rectal pressure or rectal spasm
  • Fecal incontinence:  can be due to pelvic floor muscle weakness
  • Coccyx pain or a feeling of fullness in the rectum
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Levator ani syndrome
  • Anal fissure: A tear in the skin of the anal canal, commonly caused by overstretching of the tissue sometimes due to tight pelvic floor musculature and hard stool.

Treatments for bowel dysfunction include but are not limited to:

  • External and internal manual therapy if necessary
  • Patient education regarding pathology potential dietician consulting
  • Biofeedback for relaxation and/or strengthening training
  • Core strengthening
  • Strategies to complete elimination
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Trigger point release
  • Modalities as needed

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