Chronic constipation is infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools that persists for several days, weeks or longer.
Types of Constipation:
- Slow-transit constipation. In this type of constipation, motility (gut movement) is decreased causing bloating, abdominal pain and hard stool
- Outlet constipation. In this type of constipation, discoordination of the musculature of the pelvic floor results in either inappropriate anal contraction.
- Normal-transit constipation. In this type of constipation you may have daily bowel movements but show the following symptoms: hard stools and abdominal bloating and discomfort
- Secondary constipation can be caused by metabolic disturbances like hypothyroidism; neurological problems like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries; celiac disease; and diseases of the large intestine such as colon cancer
Signs and symptoms of chronic constipation:
- Passing fewer than three stools a week
- Having lumpy or hard stools
- Straining to have bowel movements
- Feeling as though there’s a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements
- Feeling as though you can’t completely empty the stool from your rectum
- Needing help to empty your rectum, such as using your hands to press on your abdomen and using a finger to remove stool from your rectum or splinting
- Increased bloating and gas formation
Difficulty with the muscles involved in elimination
Problems with the pelvic muscles involved in having a bowel movement may cause chronic constipation. These problems may include:
- Inability to relax the pelvic muscles to allow for a bowel movement (anismus)
- Pelvic muscles don’t coordinate relaxation and contraction correctly (dyssynergia)
- Weakened pelvic muscles
- Pudendal nerve involvement causing muscles to act inappropriately
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