Bowel Management

People with paralysis may experience damage to the nerves that control bowel movements. Whether the problem is a reflex bowel or a flaccid bowel, both types can be managed successfully to prevent unplanned bowel movements and other problems, such as constipation, diarrhea, or impaction.

If your bowel management program begins to produce less than desired results or if you are experiencing more frequent bowel accidents, contact your doctor.

To Ensure Success with your Bowel Program

  • Avoid the use of oral stimulant laxatives.
  • Avoid full-size enemas, which are too irritating to the bowel for use on a regular basis. Use "mini-enemas," which only have a few drops of stool softener.
  • Maintain your bowel program on a regular, predictable schedule.
  • Do not rush; be patient. Allow enough time and privacy to complete your bowel program.
  • Try to maintain your bowel program at the same time each day. This will help you avoid accidents.
  • Do not perform more than four digital stimulations at a time.
  • Trim long fingernails to avoid damage to the rectal tissue.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet with high fiber foods.
  • Adhere to an exercise program (range of motion exercises).
  • Perform your bowel program after a meal or hot beverage. This will help stimulate a bowel movement.
  • If possible, transfer to a toilet. Gravity will assist you in emptying your bowel.
  • Before cleaning, conduct a final check of the rectum to ensure it is empty.
  • Wash and dry the area before getting dressed.

Direct any medical questions to a health care professional. Always consult with your physician before modifying any course of treatment.