We want to begin this discussion by making one thing clear — fecal incontinence is more common than you might think. While this frustrating and embarrassing condition can make you feel isolated, up to 15% of people in the United States report fecal incontinence, and this number increases with age.
The other point we want to make is that there are solutions, including the effective sacral nerve stimulator.
At Digestive Disease Consultants of Orange County, our experienced and compassionate team of gastroenterologists understands the serious quality-of-life issues that fecal incontinence presents, and we’re here to help.
As part of our wide range of solutions, we offer sacral nerve stimulation, which can help you gain much-needed control over your bowel function.
Before we get into how we can treat fecal incontinence, let's quickly review how this problem develops to provide a better understanding of how the nerve-stimulation solution works.
In the simplest of definitions, fecal incontinence is the inability to control the passing of stool. While many of us have some experience with this problem during a severe bout of diarrhea, millions struggle with ongoing problems that are caused by:
While there are many roads that lead to incontinence, the end result is the same frustrating problem — the inability to control when you pass stool.
To determine the cause of your fecal incontinence, we perform an extensive evaluation. If we find that a condition like hemorrhoids or inflammatory bowel disease is to blame, we work to remedy the issue, which should clear up your incontinence.
If, however, the problem lies in the nerves that control the muscles involved in holding and passing stool, we may recommend sacral nerve stimulation. This technique was originally introduced to address urinary incontinence, but based on its success, the FDA approved its use for fecal incontinence in 2011.
With sacral nerve stimulation, we insert electrodes around your sacral nerves that deliver low-level electrical impulses that stimulate your nerves, allowing you better control over your bowel.
Also called sacral neuromodulation, this technique has been very successful in helping people overcome fecal incontinence. In fact, one study of 133 patients reported therapeutic success in 83% of participants at 12 months and 85% at 24 months.
If you want to explore whether sacral nerve stimulation may provide the solution you’re looking for to resolve your fecal incontinence, contact one of our four offices in Irvine, Huntington Beach, Tustin, or Foothill Ranch, California, to set up an appointment.