Being unable to control your bowels can be an embarrassing experience, but fecal incontinence doesn’t need to trap you in your home. Nina Paonessa, DO, of Paonessa Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC, is a highly skilled colorectal surgeon who uses conservative treatments wherever possible to address the problem of fecal incontinence.

Dr. Paonessa uses medical treatments and lifestyle modifications that not only help improve your symptoms but also address the social isolation fecal incontinence can cause. Please call either the office in Brielle or Manahawkin, New Jersey to schedule an appointment today.

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What is fecal incontinence?

Fecal incontinence is the inability to control your bowel movements, resulting in the involuntary passing of stool. Symptoms of this disorder range from occasionally leaking small amounts of stool and passing gas, to completely losing control of bowel movements.
Both men and women are at risk of developing fecal incontinence and pelvic floor disorder (PFD). However, PFD occurs more frequently in women than in men. Around one in 10 women over the age of 40 has fecal incontinence, which is often a result of childbirth.

Other risk factors include:

  • Age over 55
  • Being overweight
  • Having had pelvic surgery
  • Having nerve damage
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Being post-menopausal

Fecal incontinence is a type of pelvic floor disorder, which occurs when muscles in the pelvic area can’t support the organs in your pelvis. These organs include the bladder and rectum, as well as the uterus in women and the prostate in men.

What causes fecal incontinence and PFD?

Your brain sends signals that control the muscles of the pelvic floor through your nerves. Medical conditions or injuries that impact the health of the nervous system can result in weakness or damage to the pelvic floor muscle.
Conditions that affect the nerves in this way include:

  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Back surgery
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Childbirth

If you have PFD, you’re unable to control the muscles in your pelvic floor when you need to have a bowel movement. People with PFD contract the pelvic floor muscles rather than relax them, and they either can’t have a bowel movement, or they have an incomplete one.

How is fecal incontinence treated?

Dr. Paonessa can help you with fecal incontinence using several noninvasive treatments. Self-care, medicines, physical therapy, and home exercise can all help improve your bowel control, depending on the cause of your problem and what best fits your lifestyle.

Dietary changes often reduce the occurrence of fecal incontinence. What you eat and drink affects the consistency of your stool, so Dr. Paonessa might recommend diet modification and adjusting the nutritional supplements you take.

If nerve or muscle damage is the cause of your fecal incontinence, exercises and physical therapy can help improve function and strength. These exercises include bowel training and biofeedback.

Biofeedback is a technique taught by specially trained physiotherapists that can increase anal muscle strength, allowing patients to learn to relax or contract their pelvic floor muscles. Medication can also help some patients with fecal incontinence, but surgery is rarely needed.

Dr. Paonessa takes the time to listen to your symptoms and will help you to adjust your daily routine and habits. Her goal is to get you out of the house and back to the activities you enjoy doing.

You don’t need to struggle with or feel embarrassed about fecal incontinence. Let Dr. Paonessa help improve your quality of life by scheduling a consultation at Paonessa Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC, today.

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