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  • Fecal incontinence (FI)
  • Faecal incontinence

  • 315.4 Coordination disorder (clumsiness, dyspraxia and/or specific motor development disorder)
  • 718.45 Contracture of joint; pelvic region and thigh
  • 719.70 Difficulty in walking
  • 728.2 Muscular wasting and disuse atrophy
  • 728.89 Other disorders of muscle, ligament, and fascia
  • 729.9 Other disorders of soft tissue
  • 780.7 Malaise and fatigue
  • 781.2 Abnormality of gait
  • 782.3 Edema
  • 786.0 Dyspnea and respiratory abnormalities
  • 786.05 Shortness of breath
  • 787.6 Incontinence of feces

  • R15.9 Full incontinence of feces

  • As of February 2013, the APTA Guide to Physical Therapist Practice does not include practice patterns for organ systems pathology; therefore, the associated or secondary musculoskeletal, cardiovascular/pulmonary, or potential neuromuscular patterns would be indicated


  • Loss of bowel control, complete or occasional
  • There is a broad array of GI disorders that may be encountered, though not managed specifically, by physical therapists
  • Patients with GI pathology may receive care as a result of secondary problems such as weakness, gait abnormalities, and limited aerobic endurance
  • Symptoms may be acute, post-operative, chronic, viral, bacterially related, or congenital/hereditary
  • Complaints often include changes in bowel habits: constipation, diarrhea, bowel urgency, incontinence, and cramping
  • Pain is frequently referred to the low back

Essentials of Diagnosis

  • Must be made by a physician and confirmed by medical diagnostic testing
  • Complaints of
    • Abdominal pain; constant or intermittent
    • Abdominal tenderness
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea or constipation; changes in bowel habits
    • Bloating
    • Possible rectal bleeding
    • Rectal/anal irritation
    • Acute drops in blood pressure which may result in decreased blood flow to intestines
    • Inability to swallow
    • Lack of appetite
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Abdominal pain upon ingesting food
    • Possible joint pains
    • Dark stool or bright red blood in stool
    • Malaise/fatigue
  • Description by individual
    • Recent illness (bacterial, viral)
    • Ingestion of spoiled food

General Considerations

  • PTs should recognize the possibility of GI pathology in differential diagnosis, especially when findings are not consistent with conditions commonly treated: musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, integumentary, cardiopulmonary, functional and mobility dysfunction secondary to medical pathology
  • As GI symptoms are frequently referred to the back and shoulders, patients may be inappropriately referred to PT
  • Diagnosis for more occult problems may take time and require intensive medical diagnostic testing
  • GI disorders occur throughout the lifespan (birth through geriatric)
  • May result in secondary problems indicating the need for physical therapy intervention: impairment of aerobic capacity and muscle endurance, sarcopenia, weakness, impaired muscle performance, musculoskeletal problems, neuromuscular problems, weight loss or weight gain
  • Symptoms may include chronic diarrhea, episodic diarrhea, loss of bowel control (incontinence or urgency), blood in stool
  • Because GI disorders frequently refer pain to other body areas, individuals may be referred to PT inappropriately
  • GI problems may be commonly related to stress, constipation, more serious problems such as autoimmune conditions (Crohn’s disease), or acute pain from appendicitis
  • In adults females, GI complaints may be indicative of cancer or tumors in the reproductive organs, or ...

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