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Biofeedback

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Biofeedback is based on the idea that you can learn to have more control over the things your body does automatically. There are several types of biofeedback treatments for constipation. They all involve training the muscles around your anus to relax.

  • An electric sensor can measure how tense or relaxed the muscles around your anus are. [37] You'll be given feedback on a screen so you can get used to relaxing your muscles when you need to. The sensor may be a thin tube or a balloon that's put into your back passage, or electrodes that are attached to the skin around your anus.

  • You may have a balloon filled with water put into your back passage and then pulled out slowly. [37] This lets you get used to the feeling of passing a stool. You can also practise using your muscles to speed up or slow down how quickly the balloon is moving.

Biofeedback is sometimes used to treat people who have constipation because of problems controlling the muscles around their anus. This is called pelvic floor dysfunction. However, there hasn't been much good-quality research on biofeedback for constipation. [38] The research that has been done suggests that biofeedback might help.

A few studies found this treatment seemed to help between 6 in 10 and 9 in 10 people. [39] Another study found biofeedback worked better than the laxative polyethylene glycol. [40] That study found that 8 in 10 people who had instructions about biofeedback said their symptoms were much better. Only 2 in 10 people who took polyetheylene glycol said their symptoms were much better.

Biofeedback is available only in a few specialised clinics. You might not be able to get it on the NHS.

We couldn't find any evidence that biofeedback can be harmful.

Glossary

anus

The anus, which is at the end of the rectum, is where stools leave your body when you go to the toilet. Part of the anus is a muscle that helps you hold in the stool until you are on the toilet.

biofeedback

When you have biofeedback, your doctor helps you use a device that measures how fast your heart beats, how fast you're breathing or how tense your muscles are. The information you get from the device is called 'biofeedback'. Biofeedback lets you see how your heartbeat, breathing or muscle tension change when you do things like stand or sit differently, or slow down your breathing. The idea is that you can learn to sense the messages from your body without the device and learn how to control the way you respond to stress.

For more terms related to Constipation in adults

Citations

For references related to Constipation in adults click here.
Last Updated: August 06, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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