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Encopresis – A Fancy Word for Holding It!

Who here hasn’t had a painful bowel movement before?


I think all of us have had times in our lives when pooping hurt. For some kids, this can cause a long-term problem called encopresis—the withholding of stool to prevent a bowel movement. Parents, guardians, and teachers can become frustrated with this issue since it can lead to bowel leakage and accidents. Some behavioral issues can even stem from withholding stool since our gut helps to regulate our mood.

When this occurs, remember that it is rarely a willful tactic by the child for attention or because of a desire to disobey their parents or guardians. At its root, encopresis stems from fear of pain, and who among us doesn’t want to avoid that?

Over time, as someone holds in stool too long, the muscles of the pelvic floor can become extremely tight and make it very difficult for a child to have a bowel movement. This is avoidable with correct treatment and care, especially with praise and habitual training in the home environment. Kids, as the rest of us, are sensitive to the moods of others and can frequently tell when their parents or guardians are frustrated with them, which makes it more difficult for them to relax and allow themselves to have a bowel movement on the toilet.

Sometimes we must reintroduce the idea of the toilet to them as something that is not scary, or to be feared. This can take time, but eventually the child will be able to transition back to having bowel movements on the toilet. 

Pediatric Pelvic Health can help speed up the process and ensure that the child regains correct function of their bowel and bladder that is age appropriate and lets them enjoy being a child. Kids frequently respond better to an outside opinion and recommendations than one in the home they are used to, so let us help coach your child through this painful and potentially frightening time. Our Oaklawn team of expert physical therapists are here to help your child regain their confidence, reduce their fear of the toilet, and let them enjoy life again.

Contact us today at (269) 781-6030 to make an appointment, or click here to learn more about our services!

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