Anal incontinence treatments typically include non-invasive medicines or surgery. Sometimes called bowel incontinence or fecal incontinence, anal incontinence is a serious condition that has the ability to limit mobility and cause major discomfort for sufferers. In rare cases, anal incontinence may indicate a more serious health issue. For this reason suffers of anal incontinence should contact a colorectal associate who specializes in healing pain related to the anus and colon.
What are the symptoms of anal incontinence?
Anal incontinence is the inability to control the passage of gas or stool. Mild symptoms typically become worse over time, so sufferers should seek immediate medical attention when problems with the anal sphincter muscle occur. In general, a lack of bowel control is the underlying symptom of anal incontinence. Sufferers often complain about the inability to control liquid or formed stools.
What causes anal incontinence?
The cause of anal incontinence can be due to trauma in the anal region caused by childbirth, sex, age and sitting or standing in a compromising position for extended periods of time. There are also systemic diseases (e.g., Crohn’s disease, ulcertative coltis, stroke, heart disease, spinal issues, etc.) that can lead to lack of control of the anal muscles resulting in anal incontinence. It is important to tell your colorectal surgeon any medicines you’ve been taking to rule out these medicines’ side effects.
Surgical anal incontinence treatments
Sphincteroplasty is the most popular treatment for those sufferers of anal incontinence. It is an in-office operation performed by a Colorectal surgeon specializing in anal incontinence treatments. The purpose of this procedure is to repair damaged sphincter muscles by removing a modifying the muscle tissue to make it form more tightly.
Read more about Sphincteroplasty at https://academic.oup.com/gastro/article/2/2/92/597597/Sphincteroplasty-for-anal-incontinence
Sacral nerve stimulation
Sacral nerve stimulation is also an in-office anal incontinence treatment used for people with weakened sphincter muscles. During this procedure a colorectal surgon may insert electrodes under the skin in the lower back and send pulses through a genorator to stimulate the sacral nerves. The optimization of these nerves serves to connect the sphincter and pelvic muscles so that they work better.
Read more about Sacral Nerve Stimulation at https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/IPG99
Tibial nerve stimulation
Tibial nerve stimulation is a simple procedure performed in-office that takes a fine needle inserted into the tibial nerve.
Collagen or silicone may be injected into the sphincter muscles to modify these muscles.
Endoscopic heat therapy
Endoscopic heat therapy is done with a thin probe applied to the sphincter muscles to encourage the tightening of muscles to help strengthen them.
An artificial sphincter is a cutting-edge implant that has helped chronic sufferers of anal incontenince who have not been successful with other treatment options. The procedure inserts a cuff and pump whereby the anus opens and closes by pressing a button.
A colostomy is an extreme procedure performed in rare cases by a colorectal surgeon who has exhausted other anal incontinence treatment options. This procedure requires an operation on the lower bowel whereby the colon is attached through the wall of the stomach to create an artificial opening. Stools are collected in a bag, known as a colostomy bag, which must be manually emptied.
Non-invasive anal incontinence treatments
For milder forms of anal incontinence there are therapies which may mitigate symptoms. These non-operative treatments typically include changes to diet and oral medicines.
For strengthening the bowels
For strengthening the anal sphincter there have been some studies that suggest simple home exercises can help strengthen the anal region and mitigate the problems of anal incontinence. Some suffers of anal incontinence find temporary relief using medical devices designed for insertion into the anus. Unfortunately, there are few long term benefits to treating symptoms of anal incontinence and surgery is typically warranted when anal incontinence continues for long periods of time.
Constipation is not necessarily the inability to empty your bowels. Moreover, constipation is the difficulty emptying the bowels, usually associated with the hardening of stools. A general increase in the intake of fiber such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits will help constipation and underlying anal incontinence issues. Generally, fiber allows the body to retain water in the stool so that passing stools are easier. Bulk laxatives such as Citrucel or Metamucil can help temporarily for constipation causing incontinence.
Anti-diarrheal drugs such as Imodium or Lomotil can be helpful for treating anal incontinence.
Why it’s important to get help now
Before choosing an anal incontinence treatment option, suffers should consult with a colorectal surgeon to find the right options. Doctors recommend that sufferers of anal incontinence get immediate treatment to avoid serious long-term problems and discomfort. Anal incontinence caused by an injury or chronic problem will not likely get better without treatment. Likewise, anal incontinence issues may have serious medical consequences if not treated immediately.