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Bowel Issues Following a Spinal Cord Injury

Discover the bowel issues that can arise following a spinal cord injury

Bowel issues are a common concern for individuals who have experienced a spinal cord injury (SCI). The spinal cord plays a crucial role in the regulation and coordination of bowel movements. When the spinal cord is damaged, it can disrupt the normal functioning of the bowels, leading to various challenges in bowel management. In this article, we will explore the impact of a spinal cord injury on bowel function and discuss strategies for retraining the bowels to restore optimal function. We will also explore the steps involved in making a claim with National Claims.

Understanding Bowel Function After Spinal Cord Injury

To comprehend the challenges faced by individuals with spinal cord injuries, it is essential to understand how the bowels normally function. In a healthy individual, the nervous system sends signals from the brain to the colon and rectum, coordinating the muscle movements required for proper bowel evacuation. However, when the spinal cord is injured, these signals may be interrupted or blocked, leading to bowel dysfunction.

Common Bowel Issues Following a Spinal Cord Injury

Following a spinal cord injury, individuals may experience a range of bowel issues, including constipation, bowel incontinence, and difficulties with bowel emptying. These problems can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life and overall well-being.


Constipation is a prevalent issue among people with spinal cord injuries. It occurs when the stool becomes hard and difficult to pass. The reduced muscle activity in the intestines and the lack of sensation in the rectal area can contribute to constipation. Furthermore, decreased mobility and physical activity following an SCI can also affect bowel regularity.

Bowel Incontinence

Bowel incontinence, or the loss of control over bowel movements, is another common challenge. The disruption of nerve pathways can result in the inability to sense the need to defecate or control the sphincter muscles responsible for bowel continence. This can lead to unexpected bowel accidents and difficulties in maintaining proper hygiene.

Difficulties with Bowel Emptying

Individuals with spinal cord injuries may encounter difficulties with completely emptying their bowels during a bowel movement. This can be attributed to weakened or impaired muscle coordination in the rectal area. Incomplete bowel emptying not only causes discomfort but also increases the risk of complications such as bowel impaction and related infections.

Retraining Your Bowels After a Spinal Cord Injury

While bowel issues following a spinal cord injury can be challenging, there are strategies and techniques available to retrain the bowels and restore function. Here are some approaches that individuals with SCI can explore:

Establish a Bowel Management Routine

Developing a regular bowel management routine can help regulate bowel movements and prevent complications. This routine may include specific times for bowel evacuation, adopting a consistent diet with ample fiber and fluids, and using appropriate bowel care products, such as stool softeners or laxatives, under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Abdominal Massage and Exercise

Abdominal massage and exercises can be beneficial in stimulating bowel movements. Gentle circular massages on the abdomen can promote peristalsis, the wave-like contractions of the intestines that propel stool forward. Additionally, engaging in exercises that target the abdominal muscles, such as pelvic tilts or leg raises, can help improve bowel motility.

Digital Stimulation and Suppository Use

Digital stimulation involves gently inserting a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum to stimulate the nerves and muscles responsible for bowel movements. This technique can trigger a reflex and facilitate bowel evacuation. Suppositories, which are medicated inserts, can also be used to stimulate bowel movements.

Biofeedback Therapy

Biofeedback therapy is a non-invasive technique that can help individuals regain control over their bowel function. It involves using sensors to measure muscle activity in the rectal area while performing specific exercises. The feedback provided by the sensors enables individuals to learn how to control their bowel muscles effectively.

Making a Serious Injury Claim

In addition to the physical and emotional challenges faced by individuals with bowel issues following a spinal cord injury, there may also be legal considerations. If the injury was caused by the negligence of another party, it may be possible to make a serious injury claim to seek compensation for the damages incurred.

Seek Legal Assistance

Navigating the legal process can be complex, especially when dealing with a serious injury claim. It is best to contact us at National Claims, as we will be able to direct you to one of our claims specialists who will be able to guide you through the claims process. They will also provide guidance on the legal options available and help determine if a claim is viable.

Gather Evidence

To support the serious injury claim, it is crucial to gather relevant evidence. This may include medical records, documentation of the accident or incident that caused the spinal cord injury, witness statements, and any other relevant documentation. The lawyer can assist in obtaining and organizing this evidence to strengthen the case.

Assess Damages

Determining the damages incurred as a result of the spinal cord injury is a crucial step in the claims process. Damages may include medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, loss of income or earning capacity, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.


Bowel issues following a spinal cord injury can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. However, by understanding the challenges and implementing strategies for retraining the bowels, individuals can regain a sense of control and improve their bowel function. It is essential to establish a regular bowel management routine, explore techniques such as abdominal massage and exercise, and consider therapies like digital stimulation and biofeedback. 

Additionally, in cases where the spinal cord injury was caused by another party’s negligence, making a serious injury claim with the assistance of us at National Claims is a viable option to seek compensation for the damages incurred. By addressing both the physical and legal aspects, individuals with bowel issues following a spinal cord injury can work towards restoring their well-being and securing the support they need.

Contact us now to find out more about making a claim and start your claim with the help of our claims specialists.

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