Did you know that constipation affects 1/5 of the population?
Many of the patients that I treat for pelvic dysfunction suffer from constipation or have in the past. Physical therapy treatment for constipation may help symptoms such as excessive straining, feeling of incomplete emptying, bloating, passage of hard stools, as well as fewer than 3 bowel movements per week. Excess straining and pressure on the muscle and structures of the pelvic floor wreak havoc on their proper function. So when you need the muscles to work properly, they might not be able to due to tightness, improper coordination, and pain. Therefore I often hear or see these conditions at my office from my clients:
- urinary frequency
- urgency of urination
- bladder pain
- urge incontinence
- dyspareunia (painful intercourse)
- post-coital pelvic ache
- pelvic pain (unrelated to intercourse)
What are we to do?
Watch your fiber intake. The Institute of Medicine recommends men ages 50 and younger to consume at least 38 grams and women 50 and younger, 25 grams. For men over 50 at least 30 grams is recommended and for women at least 21 grams. Are you getting enough? Many people I ask say they are eating fiber. But when you stop and count your daily total for a few days, you may be surprised.
Watch your fluid intake. By this I mean, hydrating fluids! Many people count coffee, tea and carbonated beverages toward their daily fluid intake. Yet these fluids are dehydrating, and do not help nourish your body. The most common recommendation for fluid intake is half of your body weight in ounces. Therefore, if you are 150 lbs, you should consume roughly 75 oz of fluid; most of which should be water. Of course there are factors that may affect your daily fluid needs, such as excessive heat or prolonged activity. Also, eating highly water soluble foods may decrease your fluid needs, such as watermelon.
Sit on the toilet at the same time each day. You may or may not have noticed that our bodies are fairly regular. They follow common patterns or schedules. This is especially true of the bowels. You probably don’t get up in the middle of the night to have a bowel movement… unless you eat something bad at dinner! Our defecation reflexes rest at night. But once morning hits and we eat breakfast and have a cup of coffee, our reflexes kick in, and the bowels begin to move. This is the gastrocolic reflex and it is most active in the morning. Therefore, if you struggle with constipation, sitting on the toilet for a few minutes after breakfast may make a difference.
Exercise, sitting posture, and balance of muscle activity of the trunk, pelvis and legs. These are all areas I can assist people with and make recommendations for you as an individual.
I can’t help it! Whereas the above factors are alterable, some you can’t control. Abdominal, pelvic or bowel surgery may be the cause of difficulty toileting. Whether scar tissue or a change in the body’s system that altered its ability to function, you may need a little help along to return to normal.
Physical Therapy Treatment For Constipation: Innova Physical Therapy Can Help!
I know, you have never heard of a physical therapist helping someone to go #2. But think about it, we help people with muscles, connective tissue, nerve injuries, and returning to function after surgery or a limitation. So this is really the same thing, but in a different area of the body. I may have to go about helping you in a different way than traditional physical therapy, but there are many ways that pelvic physical therapy can make a huge difference with getting you back to functioning the way your body was designed.
P.S. For those of you parents out there, please help your child to not struggle with constipation. Issues as a child can lead to problems years later as an adult. Again, foods, fluids, and proper toileting habits go a long way.
Call me at (518) 632-4944 with questions – Innova Physical Therapy provides not only physical therapy treatment for constipation and bowel disorders, but also all types of specialized pelvic physical therapy.