This non-invasive method of relieving constipation has been widely used since the nineteenth century.
Constipation can be caused by a variety of factors including diet and lifestyle, medication or sometimes related to other medical conditions.
Most frequently constipation is treated with laxatives. It is important that effective bowel management is achieved to prevent more serious bowel conditions developing (such as bowel perforation), and possibly increasing the risk of bowel cancer.
Abdominal massage can improve the effectiveness of laxatives, although there is limited evidence for this. Light abdominal massage following the direction of the colon can be used to relieve flatulence as well as stimulating peristalsis. Five-ten minutes sessions two or three times weekly can have a beneficial effect in the long term, although it needs to be employed alongside laxatives. It increases peristalsis, relaxes the patient, increases transit, reducing transit time and therefore increases frequency of bowel movements and softens the consistency of the faeces, increasing the effectiveness of the laxatives. Because of the time taken, it is ideal for teaching technique to family members.