Do You Suffer From Symptoms of Incontinence?

Tag Archives: Bowel Incontinence Treatment Options

Physical Therapy for Fecal Incontinence

Bowel control problems may be reduced through frequent physical therapy. In some cases, bowel incontinence or leaks are caused by the improper alignment of the pelvic or spine bones and joints. This leads to muscle spasms, weakness, and ultimately bowel or urinary incontinence.

Anismus, or dyssynergic defecation, is when the pelvic floor muscles fail to relax or maintain coordination during the passage of stool. Physical therapy, along with dietary modification, can help the pelvic muscles relax, aiding in the proper passage of stool through the lower intestine and out the rectum.

Biofeedback is a safe, noninvasive, and effective treatment method. During biofeedback, you will learn how to retrain your bowel muscles. Through the use of small sensors attached on the outside of the body, you will learn when to contract the anal sphincter muscles.

Bowel training is another form of physical therapy that involves creating a bathroom schedule with your physician. This form of behavioral therapy will help you establish and maintain control of your bowel habits.

Medication for Urinary and Fecal Incontinence

You’ve cut out soda and spicy food. Your working on your Kegel exercises. But incontinence is still a problem. When behavioral and diet changes aren’t enough, urinary and fecal incontinence can be treated with medication.

Before taking any medication for incontinence, it is important to speak to a physician. Certain medications can be a dangerous mask for a larger problem. Over-the-counter medications such as antacids and laxatives may, in fact, be making your bladder or bowel issues far worse. Consequently, if you are taking unrelated prescription medications, these could be irritating your bladder or bowel.

Fortunately, there are many forms of treatment for urinary and fecal incontinence including oral medications, patches, or creams.

What are common medications for Urinary Incontinence?

Common medications to treat bladder control problems include anticholinergics, mirabegron, topical estrogen, and alpha blockers.


Anticholinergics are used to treat overactive bladder. They work by blocking the chemical messenger acetylcholine that sends the signal that you need to urinate to the brain.


Mirabegron is used to relax bladder muscles so that the bladder can hold more urine. Additionally, it increases the amount that you can urinate, allowing you to empty your bladder more completely.

Topical estrogen

Women with incontinence may be prescribed a low-dose topical estrogen in the form of a ring or cream. This topical estrogen helps tone tissues and eliminate vaginal dryness.

Alpha blockers

Alpha blockers help men with urge and overflow incontinence due to prostate enlargement. They relax muscles to reduce a sense of urgency and improve urine flow, making it easier to fully empty the bladder. Some examples of Alpha blockers include Rapaflo, Cardura, and Flomax.

What are common medications for Bowel Incontinence?

Anti-diarrheal medication

When bowel incontinence is caused by loose stool, anti-diarrheal medication may be prescribed to help solidify stool.


Metamucil is a fiber supplement that is typically used as a stool bulking agent. Bulking agents absorb water to make stool firmer and reduce leakage.

Before taking any medication to treat incontinence, it is important to speak to a physician. Taking the wrong medication can actually aggravate your incontinence, so it’s important to properly diagnose.

The expert physicians at Incontinence Institute can help you pinpoint the source of your incontinence and determine the best method of treatment. Determining the source of your urinary or fecal incontinence symptoms will allow your physician a better understanding of your condition and how it can be effectively treated.

Contact the Incontinence Institute today to schedule a consultation.

InterStim Implants for Bowel Incontinence

Incontinence can often be the result of a miscommunication between the brain and the bladder and/or bowels. InterStim® Therapy works to re-establish this very important communication channel.

What is InterStim?

InterStim is a small device, similar in size and function to a pacemaker, implanted just beneath the skin of the pelvis. The device emits tiny electrical pulses. These pulses target an area near the sacral nerve to modulate neural activity controlling the bladder and bowels. As a result, the symptoms of an overactive bladder or bowel incontinence are effectively eliminated.

The device is implanted through a minimally invasive surgery that can often be done under local anesthesia, though some doctors will prefer to use general anesthesia. It is generally an option for patients who have not responded to more conservative treatments such as changes to diet, medication and physical therapy. Though insurance plans vary, Medicare and private insurance generally cover InterStim treatment; consult with your doctor and insurance company if necessary.

The bowels and bladder are controlled by the sacral nerves. These nerves regulate bowel and bladder movements by interpreting signals from the brain and passing them onto the surrounding pelvic floor muscles.

How InterStim Therapy Helps Urinary and Fecal Incontinence

InterStim therapy begins with a two-week trial period employing wearable, external version of the InterStim device to determine if the treatment is likely to be effective for a patient. If the trial produces positive results, the device is implanted in a patient’s lower back near the sacral nerves. After surgery, the doctor will program the device’s electrical signals based on the results from the trial period. The signals attempt to better regulate the sacral nerves’ function and restore normal bowel function.

The device regulates the sacral nerves through mild electric impulses. These signals help the nerves function normally, much in the same way that a pacemaker uses electrical impulses to keep the heart beating on a steady, predictable rhythm. The goal is to restore the normal functioning of the sacral nerves and reduce the improper signaling that can cause the sudden urge to go, going to often, or leaks.

What to Expect from the Procedure

InterStim Therapy is a more permanent solution to incontinence and requires surgical implantation, which can be safely performed in an outpatient surgery center. Before taking that step, you’ll undergo a trial evaluation of up to two weeks to determine, along with your doctor, if InterStim is a good choice for you. During the evaluation, you’ll be able to experience what it would be like to live with the device, how it feels when activated, and even if the permanent device will be able to reduce or eliminate your symptoms.

The InterStim device itself is about the size of a silver dollar and is not visible from the surface.

The trial is a 15-minute, minimally invasive outpatient procedure. Patients typically wear the trial device between 5-10 days to determine candidacy for a permanent device. During this time, patients can continue about their normal activities.

If your physician determines you are a good candidate for a permanent InterStim device, the procedure can be quickly and safely performed in an outpatient surgery center. The procedure itself typically takes between 20-30 minutes to complete. Patients typically return to their normal activities within three weeks.

What to Expect After The Device is Implanted

Medtronic, the device’s manufacturer, reports that most patients will notice a slight pulling or tingling sensation. These impulses should not be painful — if they are, contact your doctor. Most patients also report that they no longer notice the electrical impulses after a few weeks. Patients have a hand-held programming device that allows them to turn down or turn off the device if needed. A sudden movement can also cause the sensation of stimulation to change because the device has moved closer to or further from your sacral nerve. This doesn’t mean the level of stimulation has changed. Doctors may also program the device to turn on and off at regular intervals if constant stimulation is not necessary.

The goal is for the InterStim therapy is to help patients return to normal activities without worrying about the risk of bladder or bowel leaks. A successful procedure should help patients be more confident of their ability to go through life and resume activities they were previously afraid to do because of bladder or fecal incontinence.

Proven Track Record

According to a report from the University of Rochester, fecal incontinence affects as many as 18 million Americans. The most common causes are aging or injuries from giving birth. In study results published in the medical journal “Annals of Surgery,” 120 patients and their doctors tracked the effectiveness of the therapy. About half of the patients experienced total recovery of bowel control and reported no incontinence problems for one year after the surgery. Another 30 percent reported that their bowel leaks were reduced by more than 50 percent — meaning the therapy produced significant positive results for more than eight out of 10 patients. In the unlikely event that the procedure is not effective, it can easily be reversed.

The InterStim device has been used to prevent urinary incontinence for nearly 20 years. In 2011, after extensive study, the Food and Drug Administration also approved the use of the InterStim implant as a urinary or fecal incontinence treatment. Over 100,000 individuals have been treated with InterStim Therapy.

The goal of InterStim therapy is to stop fecal incontinence and help patients regain their independence. Long walks, traveling or visits to a movie theater — things that can be difficult when patients are grappling with fecal incontinence — may now become a possibility for patients.

Qualifications for InterStim

InterStim® Therapy is an effective treatment for multiple forms of urinary and fecal incontinence. InterStim is a neurostimulation device that works by stimulating your body’s sacral nerves, which control bladder and bowel function.

Although InterStim is an excellent incontinence treatment for many patients, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are qualifications for InterStim Therapy that patients must meet before they are eligible. It’s important to discuss these steps with your physician.

InterStim can be an excellent choice for many patients for whom more conservative treatments have not proven effective, specifically men and women suffering from the following conditions:

  • Overactive bladder
  • Urge incontinence
  • Urgency-frequency
  • Non-obstructive urinary retention
  • Chronic fecal incontinence

But it’s not ideal for all patients, including patients who:

  • Lack the motor skills needed to operate the InterStim system
  • Are not good candidates for surgery
  • Suffer primarily from stress incontinence
  • Experience urinary retention due to benign prostatic hypertrophy (enlarged prostate)
  • Cancer or urethral stricture

InterStim Therapy may also not be a good choice for patients who are pregnant, are under the age of 16 or who have neurological issues as a result of a chronic condition such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, since the safety and effectiveness of the treatment has not been established in these populations.

If you’ve tried conservative approaches for your urinary or fecal incontinence and your symptoms still interfere with your activities of daily living, InterStim Therapy could be right for you. Contact our team of expert urinary and fecal incontinence doctors at our office in Nashville, TN.

Hemorrhoid Banding Treatment

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anal canal that can form internally or externally. These swollen groups of veins can be very painful and even embarrassing. But hemorrhoids are common and affect millions of men and women.

During a bowel movement, sensitive tissues inside the anus fill with blood. The strain of a bowel movement puts pressure on this tissue, making the veins swell and eventually forming hemorrhoids.

Common symptoms of hemorrhoids include:

  • Itching
  • Rectal pain
  • Blood on toilet tissue or in your stool

Hemorrhoids typically accompany bowel incontinence and can be very painful. As a result of increased pressure on their pelvic regions, pregnant women and overweight individuals are more likely to develop hemorrhoids. Depending on the severity of the hemorrhoids, hemorrhoid banding may be recommended.

Hemorrhoid banding is a treatment option for the development of severe internal, and in some cases, external hemorrhoids. During the hemorrhoid banding procedure, the hemorrhoid is tied off by a small rubberized material, which is essentially a clinical-grade rubber band.

When performed successfully, this procedure discontinues the blood supply to the hemorrhoid, causing it to shrink and eventually die. Scar tissue develops in place of the old hemorrhoid, strengthening the area and ultimately decreasing the likelihood that a new hemorrhoid will form. Hemorrhoid banding is a common, outpatient procedure with a fast recovery rate of about seven to ten days.

Dietary Modification

Changing your lifestyle is an important first step when suffering from bowel control issues or bowel incontinence. Dietary modification is typically the first attempt at treatment – it is noninvasive and easy to try at home. It’s possible that your bowel incontinence may be the result of a food allergy in your intestines.

A good first step is to write down every food and drink you are consuming, and when you have a bowel movement, an urge, a leak, or any other symptom. This can help you identify foods that trigger your bowel symptoms. Try to eliminate those foods or drinks (because it could be something like coffee) and see how you feel.

Slowly adding suspected negative foods back into your diet and experiencing the same symptoms will confirm that your body is not responding well. Spend a month or more documenting your foods and see how you feel.

If you are really not sure what foods are irritating your bowel symptoms, try avoiding these foods and drinks that are known to contribute to bowel control issues:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Dairy products
  • Chocolate
  • Spicy foods
  • Cured meats
  • Greasy and fried foods
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Citrus fruits

About The Incontinence Institute

At the Incontinence Institute, our team of healthcare providers understand the physical and mental trials that accompany living with urinary or bowel incontinence. Because of this, we are sensitive to your situation and treat all of our patients with the utmost respect and concern for discretion.

Individual incontinence conditions, treatment and recovery times may vary. Each patient's experience with incontinence procedures and / or surgery will differ. All surgical procedures involve some level of risk. If directed to pursue surgery by your physician, prompt action is advised, as waiting may reduce the efficacy of surgical treatment. The opinions expressed in patient testimonials are by patients only; they are not qualified medical professionals. These opinions should not be relied upon as, or in place of, the medical advice of a licensed doctor, etc.

Contact Us

Incontinence Institute 2009 Mallory Lane, Suite 100 Franklin, Tennessee 37067