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Constipation is a common condition in which a person has uncomfortable and/or infrequent bowel movements and is defined as having:

  • Passing fewer than three stools a week
  • Having lumpy or hard stools
  • Straining to have bowel movements
  • Feeling as though there’s a blockage in your rectum that prevents bowel movements
  • Feeling as though you can’t completely empty the stool from your rectum
  • Needing help to empty your rectum, such as using your hands to press on your abdomen and using a finger to remove stool from your rectum.

Additional symptoms of constipation can include fatigue and sluggishness, abdominal pain and cramping, and bloating.

About 4 million people in the United States have frequent constipation, although most of us will experience bouts of constipation at least once or twice in our lifetimes.

Constipation happens when food moves through the colon (large intestine) more slowly than it should, causing the body to absorb too much water from the feces, making  the feces hard, dry, and difficult to pass. This can happen for a number of reasons, including medication side effects, dehydration, a lack of fiber in the diet, major changes in routine or lifestyle, pregnancy, age, stress, pelvic floor dysfunction, or other underlying health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and anorexia nervosa. Emotions and stress can also be an exacerbating factor. Often there is more than one cause of constipation.

Constipation can be temporary. But for those living withchronic constipation lasting several weeks or longer,their constipation may lead to other complications including hemorrhoids, anal fissures, rectal prolapse, or fecal impaction, not to mention the potential discomfort that often comes along with living with constipation. Identifying the root causes of constipation is important for getting the right treatment and avoiding long-term complications.

If you’re tired of dealing with chronic constipation and are looking for something new, consider pelvic floor physical therapy. Our team at ITR Physical Therapy in Bethesda, MD and McLean, VA can assess and address pelvic floor function, offer lifestyle education such as helpful postures, helpful breathing techniques, and dietary education,, while providing other supportive interventions that will help you gain regularity and find lasting pain relief. Book your session today!