Neurogenic Bowel

Neurogenic bowel occurs when the body has problems storing and removing stool from the intestines due to nerve damage.

  • Causes

    The digestion process is partly managed by messages sent between the brain and digestive system. These messages are sent through nerves. When these nerves are damaged, messages between the brain and digestive system are blocked. This prevents the bowels from working properly.

    The spinal cord runs from the base of the brain to the lower back. There are two main types of neurogenic bowel, depending on where along the spinal cord the damage occurs.

  • Definition

    Neurogenic bowel occurs when the body has problems storing and removing stool from the intestines due to nerve damage.

    Intestines
    Normal Anatomy of the Large and Small Intestine
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  • Diagnosis


    Your doctor will:

    • Ask about your symptoms and medical history
    • Do a physical exam


    Tests may include:

    • Rectal exam
    • Test to check for blood in the stool

  • Prevention


    This condition cannot be prevented. You can decrease the risk of spinal cord injury by taking safety precautions, such as:

    • Wearing seat belts
    • Avoiding activities that can put you at risk for injuring your spine

  • Risk Factors

    Spinal cord injury is the main risk factor.

  • Symptoms


    If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume they are due to neurogenic bowel. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:

    • Trouble having a bowel movement
    • Repeated bowel accidents
    • Swollen abdomen
    • Feeling full (not hungry) quickly
    • Loose stools or very hard stools
    • Bleeding from the rectum
    • Abdominal pain

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include: