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Constipation, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and Physical Therapy

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

Constipation can be a very uncomfortable and painful condition in which the bowels move  less than 2 times a week and you have hard stools, straining, and incomplete emptying of feces at least 25% of the time.  There may significant straining to evacuate stool which causes risk of other problems such as organ prolapse (dropping of pelvic organs such as the bladder), pain, or pelvic floor dysfunction and continence issues.  Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) leads to abdominal pain, bloating, and bowel movements varying between constipation and diarrhea.  

Both constipation and IBS are treated medically with medication and diet.  Physical Therapy may help improve pain and issues related to pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.

Conservative Physical Therapy Management of constipation and IBS due to pelvic floor dysfunction may include: 

  • Modalities such as heat and ice

  • Manual Therapy:  “hands on” treatment to improve pain and restore function and movement. 

  • Mobilization and Manipulation:  movement of a joint to improve pain and restore functional movement.

  • Therapeutic exercise:  specific exercise to improve pain and restore functional movement.  

  • Functional Movement Training:  exercises to improve posture and movement

  • Pelvic Floor Retraining:  exercise to correct pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.   It is important to get proper training in doing this correctly to avoid problems. 

  • Biofeedback:  a way of using a computer or other device to “see” and improve body functions such as muscle activity or indicators of stress.  Also used to “see” the function of the pelvic floor muscle to improve therapeutic exercise or breathing patterns.   

  • Electrical Stimulation or TENS:  used to help improve pain, inflammation, muscle spasm, muscle function, and circulation.

To schedule an appointment with Clemens Physical Therapy call 304-842-6008

Not all physical therapists work with the pelvic floor.  There are women's health physical therapists who specialize in pelvic floor rehabilitation.  They work with conditions that may include incontinence, pelvic pain, pregnancy, and osteoporosis.  You can get more information on this specialty area of physical therapy or locate a PT who works with these conditions at the website for the Section on Women's Health of the American Physical Therapy Association here.

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