As a pelvic floor physical therapist, many of the patients I treat come to me with issues that are very personal to them. Bowel issues, such as leakage (fecal incontinence), bowel urgency, or even uncontrolled gas can greatly affect quality of life, and I find that my patients often feel there is no help or hope with these symptoms. If you’re experiencing fecal incontinence, know that you’re not alone! It’s estimated that anywhere from 2-24% of the population experience bowel incontinence each year. A physical therapist, as part of your healthcare team, can greatly help with regaining control of your bowels.
The pelvic floor muscles attach from the pubic bone to the tailbone. These muscles help provide support for the pelvis, pelvic organs, lymphatic system, sexual function, along with support of bladder and bowels. The pelvic floor helps control the sphincter muscles that open and close, to keep both urine and stool from escaping. For bowel function, the external anal sphincter is a muscle that is under voluntary control, which means we can work on the strength, coordination and function of that muscle (along with the rest of pelvic floor and other supporting muscles/systems) to help improve continence of stool and the ability to hold back gas. For 50-80% of patients who receive pelvic floor PT, fecal incontinence demonstrates improvements in symptoms and quality of life.
I love when my patients are able to eat without worrying where the nearest bathroom is or participate in their favorite exercise class without accidentally passing gas. Please know, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you can find a pelvic floor PT who can help!
If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, contact me for a free 15-minute phone consult to see if Webb Physical Therapy can help!
Scott, K.M. (2014). Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation in the Treatment of Fecal Incontinence. Clinics in Colon and Rectal surgery. 27(3), 99-105.l