Spinal cord injuries can lead to bowel management problems

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As we have discussed in the past, spinal cord injuries affect every area of your life. One of these areas is bowel control, which can cause very complicated issues. There are two main types of bowel control issues that you can have when you have a spinal cord injury. The type that a person suffers from is dependent upon the level at which the injury occurred.

If the injury that you suffered was at level L1 or higher on your spinal cord, you will likely suffer from upper motor neuron bowel syndrome. This can lead to constipation because the sphincter remains tight and you are unable to voluntarily control it. This means that a suppository or other manual manipulation is necessary to allow the stool to evacuate the body properly.

If the injury is below level L1, you will likely suffer from lower motor neuron bowel syndrome. This can also lead to constipation and stool retention. It can also lead to fecal incontinence. In this condition, slow stool propulsion and loss of stool movement cause problems because the anal sphincter isn’t functional at all. Stool softeners, enemas, and manual manipulation might be necessary to allow stool evacuation.

In both of these cases, it is possible to have a bowel accident. In order to minimize the risk, planning a bowel program into your day is necessary. This can be very limiting if you have an active social life. When you add this care program into the other daily routine necessities, you will find out how time consuming proper care is after a spinal cord accident.

Source: Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, “Bowel Management,” accessed Feb. 10, 2016

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