Neurogenic bowel dysfunction ranks as one of the most frequent problems experienced by people with multiple sclerosis (MS); it is one of the first symptoms to appear at disease onset and continues throughout the course of the disease. This review, based on literature searches of Medline and PubMed, examines bowel dysfunction causes and cofactors (ie, impaired mobility, fatigue, depression and anxiety, childbirth) that occur over the course of the disease. Coverage includes management of bowel dysfunction with noninvasive methods, including diet and fluid intake, together with pharmacologic treatments for constipation and fecal incontinence as well as more advanced treatments (ie, biofeedback, abdominal massage, transanal irrigation, posterior tibial nerve stimulation), caregiver-provided treatments and extended care facilities. Bowel dysfunction problems and related cofactors impact quality of life throughout the MS disease course, requiring appropriate interventions to improve and/or maintain the quality of life of the individual with MS.

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