Worldwide, constipation remains one of the most common bowel problems.
Though it often feels like a big enough issue alone, constipation is usually a symptom of an underlying problem, rather than an independent condition.
It is frequently associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other inflammatory bowel conditions like diverticulosis.
Generally, you’d be diagnosed with constipation if you had three or less bowel movements a week. However, this definition is open to interpretation.
Natural medicine dictates that going to the toilet once a day is ideal, and will have profound benefits on your general health, energy levels and vitality.
Though the defining symptom of constipation is irregular bowel movements, there are two other symptoms you should take note of if they occur.
The first is a sensation of ‘incomplete emptying’, and the second is blood in your stool. If you ever experience either of these, it’s important to seek medical advice from your doctor.
Constipation is often aggravated by stress and other lifestyle choices.
It has been linked to frequent use of pain medication and NSAIDs (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like aspirin and ibuprofen, or codeine-based medicines.
High stress affects the muscles of the bowel which can result in constipation.
Other factors leading to constipation are: not drinking enough water, a lack of fibre in your diet and not exercising enough. Incorporating these lifestyle changes into your daily routine may offer some relief. However, if constipation persists, it’s essential to seek medical attention as there may be an underlying issue.
Other common triggers for constipation include dietary sensitivities and pelvic floor issues.
In some cases, constipation may be caused by your organs not functioning as they should.
If you believe there is an underlying cause for your constipation, you should see one of our practitioners for a physical examination and functional medicine testing.
Constipation responds well to a combination of treatments conducted in tandem. Natural medicine and homeopathy can help treat bacterial overgrowth and manage dietary considerations, while body based therapies like osteopathy may offer some physical relief.
Restrictions in your rib cage, diaphragm, lower back and pelvis can inhibit the muscular contractions (peristalsis) in the colon, slowing the passage of stool and causing constipation. Our osteopaths can provide you with exercises and stretches in order to reduce these restrictions and loosen the bowels. They can also show you how to massage your abdomen in order to soften stool and achieve a bowel movement.
Hip flexor exercises like upward-facing dog and low lunges, alongside breathing practices like kapalabati may offer some at-home relief. However, by meeting with one of our osteopaths, you ensure that your treatment plan is tailored to alleviate your individual restrictions.
If your constipation is stress-related, you may benefit from our psychotherapy, counselling and mindfulness services. We also encourage you to take action at home: incorporate relaxing activities like meditation, yoga, walking or talking with a friend. This will help reduce stress and help reconnect you with your body, improving digestion.