Injury L1/T-12 and below

Bowel Management

Injury L1/T-12 and below

spinal_cord1a (1)A spinal cord injury to L1 / T-12 and below may damage the defecation reflex and relax the anal sphincter muscle. This is known as a lower motor neuron or flaccid bowel.

Management of this type of bowel may require more frequent attempts to empty the bowel and manual removal of stools, as not being able to control the sphincter can result in an inability to have a bowel movement.

This can cause your stool to be impacted and the solid waste to be retained. Impaction can be serious if it occurs high up in the bowel.


There can also be a high risk of faecal incontinence through the lax sphincter:

  • A firmer stool is advisable, to try to counteract this, and can be influenced by what you eat
  • For this type of bowel condition, management is based on manual evacuation of the stool, as there is no reflex activity to be elicited
  • A glycerine suppository may be used as lubrication.