Small bowel obstruction is a potentially life-threatening condition in which food is unable to pass through the intestine. The signs of bowel obstruction include pain, nausea or vomiting accompanied by difficulty or inability to pass gas or stool. For many patients, it means repeat hospitalizations and surgeries to clear the blockage. Without treatment, bowel obstruction can be fatal.
What causes a small bowel obstruction? Cases in which the small intestine is physically blocked can be caused by the following factors:
- Abdominal adhesions — bands of fibrous tissue in the abdominal cavity that can form after abdominal or pelvic surgery
- Twisting of the intestine (volvulus)
- Telescoping of the intestine (intussusception)
- Hernias — portions of intestine that protrude into another part of your body
- Tumors in the small intestine
- Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease
Adhesions are responsible for roughly 60 percent of all cases of bowel obstruction in the United States. Abdominal adhesions are often treated with surgery. However, the very surgery to remove adhesions can cause more to form as the body heals, leaving patients trapped in a vicious cycle of adhesions-surgery-adhesions. Clear Passage Physical Therapy treats adhesions non-surgically, using a manual therapy protocol. Schedule a phone consultation with an expert therapist to learn more about treating adhesions naturally.
In non-mechanical obstructions, there is no physical blockage. Instead, muscle or nerve problems disrupt the normal coordinated muscle contractions of the intestines. As a result, the movement of food and fluid through the digestive system slows down or stops. This ‘paralysis’ of the intestine is called paralytic ileus.