It is important to have an effective bowel routine after SCI to prevent embarrassing bowel accidents. Emptying your bowel completely on a regular basis will minimise accidents. How well your routine works can be affected by stress, diet, medication, exercise and how much water you drink. If you are having accidents, or things are taking too long (more than 45 minutes), it is time to review your bowel routine.
There are two excellent information leaflets from the Queensland Spinal Cord Injuries service with advice on how to manage your bowels after SCI whether you have an upper motor neuron bowel (injury above T12/L1) or a lower motor neuron bowel (injury at or below T12/L1). These guides provide information on the fibre contents of different foods (are you getting enough or too much?), as well as how various laxatives and medications work on your bowel (do you need a stimulant or a softener?). There is also a bowel diary to help you work out what is triggering accidents if you are having problems.
You can also access the latest version of the Fiona Stanley Hospital SCI patient care manual here for more information on neurogenic bowel, as well as equipment and techniques for bowel management.
Where to go if you need help with bowel management issues:
- If you need some advice or have other questions about bowel management, you can contact the Spinal Community Nurses on 9381 0124 (Monday-Friday office hours). The Spinal Community Nurses have extensive experience working with people with SCI. This is a free service and the nurse may also be able to come to your home (depending on where you live)
- Your GP is your primary health care provider for bowel management (this is not a service provided by FSH outpatients)