Constipation is a condition where a person has uncomfortable or infrequent bowel movements. Generally, a person is considered to be constipated when bowel movements result in passages of small amounts of hard, dry stool, usually fewer than 3 times a week.
What is considered normal when it comes to bowels?
- Emptying your bowels between 3 times a day to 3 times a week
- A formed sausage-shaped stool that is firm but not hard
- Going with an urge to go
- Emptying in 1-2 minutes without any difficulties or discomfort
- Paper comes away clean with no excessive wiping
Are you constipated?
For a diagnosis of functional constipation, you must have 2 or more of the following:
- Bowel actions less than 3 times a week
- Straining to empty >25% of the time
- Passing lumpy or hard stools >25% time
- Feeling as though you haven’t completely emptied >25% time
- A sensation of anorectal obstruction >25% time
- Using manual manoeuvres to assist bowel emptying >25% time
Common causes of constipation:
- Not drinking enough
- Not eating enough
- Too much or too little fibre, or the wrong type
- Delaying the urge to go to the toilet for many hours
- Dysfunctional pelvic floor muscles
- Lack of regular exercise
- Lifestyle (e.g. shift work, travel)
Medical / Physiological and Psychological Factors:
- Stress and anxiety
- Some medications (pain medications, anti-depressants, antacids)
- Some disease processes
- Hormonal changes
- Medical conditions eg IBS, diabetes etc
What is the treatment for constipation?
A large proportion of people with constipation will improve their symptoms with physiotherapy treatment. However, depending on the cause of your constipation, you may also need to follow up with your doctor for additional treatment.
How can a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist help?
Using a holistic approach, a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist will ask you detailed questions about all aspects of your medical history and life, as well as perform a physical examination if needed. Our number one aim is to help you reach your goals and improve your lifestyle. Our treatment may include:
- Making adjustments to diet and fluid intake
- Modifying dietary fibre or fibre supplementation
- Teaching the safest and most efficient way to empty your bowels
- Showing you the best way to sit on a toilet
- Physical activity recommendations
- Assessing your pelvic floor muscle activity
- Pelvic floor exercise program
- Teaching effective relaxation techniques
If you would like to know more or are experiencing symptoms of constipation, call us to make an appointment with one of our experienced Pelvic Health Physiotherapists. Call (08) 6389 2947 or click here to book online.