The causes, symptoms and treatments of neurogenic bowel dysfunction

15th September 2021

The causes, symptoms and treatments of neurogenic bowel dysfunction

Clare Langford, a Partner in the Higgs LLP Clinical Negligence team, looks at neurogenic bowel dysfunction and treatment options.

As partners of The Spinal Injuries Association (SIA), we are in regular contact with people who have suffered a spinal cord injury, either as a result of an accident or through complications during spinal surgery.

One of the many potential problems caused by spinal injury is neurogenic bowel. Caused by a nerve problem in the lower part of the colon, neurogenic bowel is the loss of normal bowel function.

The problem is caused by damage to the nerves that control this part of the bowel.

At Higgs, we typically come into contact with sufferers of neurogenic bowel when they have been involved in a RTA or a fall, or when they have experienced complications during surgery.

In the latter, it may give risk to a claim for clinical negligence. We have experience in these circumstances and can advise on the best ways forward.

Neurogenic bowel can also present after neurologic disease such as Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s, a stroke or cauda equina syndrome.

The symptoms are:

  • Loss of sensation that the bowel is full
  • Incontinence
  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach or pain

A conservative approach to treating neurogenic bowel is initially preferred.

Often a change to a high fibre diet can bring relief and fibre supplements and laxatives can also be prescribed.

Other treatment techniques include planned bathroom sessions, suppositories and nerve stimulation techniques.

If a conservative approach is unsuccessful then surgery may be considered in certain circumstances to form a stoma.

The Higgs major trauma and clinical negligence teams are passionate about helping those affected by spinal cord injuries.

As one of The SIA’s Trusted Legal Partners in the West Midlands region, Higgs LLP’s clients with spinal cord injuries enjoy a number of benefits, including access to SIA’s support network, which includes a team of SCI peers, specialist nurses, trained counsellors and an advocacy team.

People with the injuries are also signposted to access Higgs LLP’s specialist legal support.

As well as providing advice if there is a legal claim as a result of injuries sustained or substandard medical intervention, the wider Higgs team will be on hand to support holistically with other legal issues that arise including supporting with the purchase of single level accommodation, dealing with matrimonial issues or employment concerns.

For more information, contact me on 01384 327198 or


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