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Biofeedback Treats One Type Of Chronic Constipation

udy. In contrast, only 4 percent of the sham group and slightly more than 8 percent of the standard group showed corrected muscle function. "We did the study to find out: Is it medical attention and coping strategies or alterations in muscle-function that really make a difference with biofeedback?" Rao said. "The study results show that bowel movement improvement is possible in nearly 80 percent of patients through biofeedback."

Standard treatment included use of laxatives, education about bowel habits, exercise for overall physical and abdominal muscle strengthening, and dietary advice such as increasing fiber and fluid intake.

The biofeedback group received standard treatment plus six training sessions over three months in which the participants practiced pushing with a probe in the rectum and pushing out artificial stools.

"We showed the biofeedback group how to improve their pushing effort and relax the pelvic floor and anal sphincter muscles so that they can poop normally and easily," Rao said. "The probe gives us information about how the muscles are working."

The sham biofeedback group received standard care plus six training sessions over three months. They practiced pushing using the probe but, unlike the true biofeedback group, did not use the artificial stool and were not instructed in how to push or relax muscles. They were provided attention in the form of coping strategies and muscle relaxation tapes.

In addition to using objective anal/rectal muscle function measures, the team used a second objective measure and found that people in the biofeedback group were able to expel an artificial stool in less time than it took participants in the other groups.

"There's no question from the objective data that the biofeedback treatment is far superior than standard treatment," Rao said.

The study also included two subjective measures of differences among the three treatments.
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