What Is Faecal Incontinence?
Faecal incontinence is the accidental leakage of faeces (poo) from the bowels and out of your back passage. The leakage may be solid or liquid faeces, or even mucus from the bowels. It can also lead to excessive wind and faecal smearing (the staining of underwear).
Is Faecal Incontinence Common?
Faecal incontinence affects 6% of men and 10% of women in Australia. It is more commonly diagnosed in older adults, but can impact individuals at any age. The number of individuals experiencing faecal incontinence may be even higher, as people may feel embarrassed and not seek treatment immediately. However, with as many as 10% of individuals impacted by this condition, know that you are not alone. With the right treatment plan, we can help you manage and even resolve faecal incontinence.
What Are The Symptoms Of Faecal Incontinence?
A healthy bowel usually wants to empty around thirty minutes after eating a meal. With Faecal Incontinence, leakage of faeces may happen on the way to the bathroom, after a bowel movement, or without any warning. Individuals may experience faecal urgency, where there is very little time between a bowel movement and reaching the bathroom.
How Is Faecal Incontinence Diagnosed?
When you visit the Sydney Pelvic Clinic, the information you provide us with can help us with your diagnosis. To better diagnose and treat your incontinence, we may:
- Take a digital rectal examination
- Give you a digital x-ray or defecating proctogram (an x-ray of your bowels)
- Endoanal ultrasound and manometry (a test to see if the anus and bowel is working normally)
What Are Some Faecal Incontinence Causes?
There are some pre-existing conditions, treatments and surgeries that may cause faecal incontinence:
- Pelvic radiation (e.g. from radiotherapy) or existing malignancies (cancer)
- Previous colorectal surgery
- Neurological conditions like Dementia or Multiple Sclerosis
- IBS, Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis
- Medication side effects
- Anxiety or depression
- Weak anal sphincter or pelvic floor muscles, or loss of structural support
- Constipation, or loose or watery stool types
- Reduced sensation (e.g. spinal or nerve injuries)
How Do You Manage Faecal Incontinence?
After a consultation and physical examination, your physiotherapist will be able to help you with a tailor-made plan to manage your faecal incontinence. They may suggest some faecal incontinence home remedies that can help. Some of the therapies may include:
You might be trained on how to use your muscles through defecation dynamics, which teaches you how to generate rectal pressure through abdominal muscle training. Rectal balloon training can also teach your anal and sphincter muscles what normal bowel movements feel like.
If you feel reduced sensation in your bowel area, we can help to stimulate muscle contractions using a probe. This will help you feel a bowel contraction and also build strength in your anal sphincter muscles.
Nervous System Management
The nervous system can play a significant role in bowel movement. We can work with you to manage your nervous system response and regain control of your bowel movements.
This involves manipulation of the stool to achieve a desired stool type. It can help to clear the bowels after constipation or blockage.
Sacral Stimulation Or Surgery
Sacral stimulation is the use of a small machine to deliver electrical impulses to your muscles. Surgery or sacral stimulation are only considered after physiotherapy based techniques have not helped to treat your faecal incontinence.
Get Treatment For Faecal Incontinence
If you are experiencing faecal incontinence, book your consultation today. Start your journey of healing with our expert physiotherapy team at the Sydney Pelvic Clinic.