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Bowel management

Bowel management

It can be one of your most distressing and embarrassing concerns if you have a spinal cord injury: how can I manage the loss of control over my bowel?

You’re likely to have lost sensation and control of when your bowels will empty, and you might also be prone to constipation. This is due to interruption of the nerve pathway between the brain and muscles in your rectum and anus.

So you need a plan and routine for how you’ll manage your bowel movements. This can help you feel more confident and ease your concerns.

Spinal cord injuries can interrupt the nerve pathway between our brains and the muscles in our rectum and anus. That can result in the loss of sensation and control over when our bowels empty, a condition known as neurogenic bowel dysfunction.

The degree to which our bowel control is affected depends on factors such as the level of the spinal cord injury and whether it is a complete or incomplete injury. That means the approach to bowel management can differ vastly between people based on our unique needs.

People with spinal cord injuries have told us that being bowel incontinent is the biggest problem in their lives. It affects their confidence to leave the house, especially if they need more support with their routine. We can help by discussing options for bowel management

Debbie Green, our spinal cord injury nurse specialist

The thought of losing control over our bowels can be among the most distressing and embarrassing spinal cord injury-related concerns. But with proper support and the right bowel management approach for you, it is possible to control your symptoms to reduce the chances of constipation and incontinence.

Understanding what is happening in your body can help you come to terms with the changes you may be experiencing. We have plenty of information about bowel management in our SCI factsheet series.  For more information about bowel management – just click on the button on the right of this page to download our fact sheet.

We also have the following fact sheets:


download COLOSTOMY fact sheet

download AUTONOMIC DYSREFLEXIA fact sheet

In addition to our own fact sheets you can click on the button below to download a guide for people with SCI considering a colostomy.  This was produced by Michelle Boucher, Stoma Care Clinical Nurse Specialist for Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust.


download colostomy guide for people with SCI

You are not alone

Learning how to manage our bowels and adapting to changes in how our bodies work after spinal cord injury can be tough on our self-esteem and mental health. It becomes much easier when you realise you are not alone in experiencing such problem

Our SCI nurse specialists are here for you whether you need practical advice about bowel management or are looking to talk to someone about your mental health and wellbeing.Get in touch with the team here for practical advice about bowel management.

The Bladder & Bowel Community website also has plenty of information, stories of lived experience and support for all types of bowel and bladder problems.

If you’re looking for a service to deliver your bowel management products and medication straight to your door, SIA Healthcare can help. You’ll also get a free Radar key to access disabled toilets when you sign up.

You can also visit the bladder and bowel community website for information on bowel-related problems.