Art, Music, DanceDiarrhea/ConstipationExercise

Using biofeedback to treat functional constipation

Pelvic floor dyssynergia-type constipation occurs when pelvic muscles contract instead of relaxing when a person strains to defecate. It’s “functional” because the muscles needed to defecate aren’t working properly.

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84 people with this condition were assigned to biofeedback, diazepam (Valium), or placebo. All patients were trained to do pelvic floor muscle exercises, but only biofeedback patients received electromyography (a test of muscle function) to tell them if they were successful in controlling the pelvic muscles. All other patients simply did their exercises and took the pills one to two hours before attempting defecation.

After 3 months of training, those who learned biofeedback were significantly more successful in relieving constipation than those treated with diazepam or placebo.

Want to learn more?
The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback has more on elimination disorders here.

Illustration: Children, Youth, and Women Health Center

2/16/07 22:52 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.