by Becca Ironside, PT
As pelvic floor practitioners who treat a variety of disorders of the digestive tract, we are proud to participate in retraining of the sensation of the bowel with a unique type of therapy. Rectal balloons have long been used in the past by gastroenterologists for diagnostic purposes to observe how patients attempt to void stool from the sphincters of the anus. More recently, pelvic floor physical therapists have been using rectal balloon catheters to aid in treating constipation by providing contact against the bowel wall. This stimulates the sensors which leads to better coordination of the pelvic floor muscles and ultimately, improved passage of stool without straining or discomfort.
Here is how it works: The patient lies on their side and the PT inserts a deflated lubricated balloon into the rectum. The PT then begins to pump small amounts of air into the balloon to inflate it. This mimics the sensation of having a full bowel and “needing to go” for the patient. Small sensors which line the bowel walls are being trained with the presence of the expanding balloon that it is time to void; this unique sensation is historically ignored or suppressed by the brains of people with chronic constipation. Yet with the use of rectal balloon training, such people are afforded the opportunity to show their colons who is truly in charge of having healthy, soft and regular bowel movements (their own brains are!).
The use of rectal balloons might sound weird and like the stuff of science fiction. But once patients experience this treatment in the relaxing and supportive environment of a pelvic floor clinic, they often discover how they might have been contributing to their own unconscious tension which leads to a lifetime of constipation. Rectal balloon therapy has also proven to be effective for the management of people with chronic diarrhea and poor stool quality. In short, it is a wonderful adjunct to a balanced pelvic floor treatment plan aimed at improving bowel health. If you have bowel concerns, please ask us at Connect PT about rectal balloon training.
Barthelemy, Anne1; Shifferd, Jennifer1; Erickson, Kim1 Balloon Training for Bowel Dysfunctions, Journal of Women's Health Physical Therapy: Spring 2009 - Volume 33 - Issue 1 - p 18
If you are experiencing chronic pain, stiffness or discomfort, what is your body trying to tell you? Here is a short, fun practice to begin dialogue and partnership with your body.
This may seem awkward or strange at first; it may seem silly or even uncomfortable, but if you do this more and more, you shall receive the answers and your body begins to trust you and you begin to trust your body, thereby creating a partnership for health. Through practicing this over and over you may notice that the pain begins to subside and may eventually be gone.
You may choose to combine this with a very clear intention that it is your intention to 100% enjoy your body fully, and that your body enjoys you inside of it fully and completely. This supports your collaboration with your body for a maximum amount of enjoyment.
Although the pain may not leave immediately, recognize that the physical form takes longer to change, but the change starts once you make a connection and change your thoughts. It is new energy; it is new consciousness; it is new awareness. Your job now is to stay in a mode of receiving and know that you have started the process of feeling better, and while it might not be an overnight healing, it will be steadfast and continuous, and with ease and grace. We want this with ease and grace in the most gentle way for you.
According to Dr. John Sarno, in his book, Healing Back Pain, for a condition like chronic back pain, once you call out the emotion that your body is repressing, there is no longer any need for the pain and the body will no longer need to generate tension. (2)
All of us here at Connect Physical Therapy are here to support you to feel your best.