Bladder and Bowel Management in People with Neurological Conditions

The MS Trust recently highlighted that around 75 per cent of people with MS experience bladder problems, which can have a big impact on your everyday life. But on the MS Trust website, there are a number of simple management strategies that you may wish to recommend to patients, which they can put in place and which can help them to improve bladder function. These include:

  • Considering your level of food and drink intake
  • Managing your weight
  • Pelvic floor exercises (with tips to strengthen pelvic floor muscles)
  • Bladder training

In addition to the bladder issues suffered by people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), it is important to be alert to bowel problems. Constipation as well as faecal incontinence are also a common occurrence in other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s.

Given the slowness of movement and rigidity in Parkinson’s, this affects the muscles in the bowels. But also, the damage to the nervous system in Parkinson’s will add to the complexity of the disrupted bowel movement, as is also the case in other neurological conditions such as MS, Motor Neurone Disease and spinal cord injury.

Neurogenic bowel, as it is often referred to, results from loss of normal sensory or motor control and may encompass both the upper and the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Patients’ quality of life is greatly affected with their symptoms often being socially disabling. Although bowel dysfunction is a common event, to date there have been relatively few studies addressing bowel management.

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