Non-Drug Therapy Found to Help Children with Functional Constipation

More effective than standard medical care for most outcomes
More effective than standard medical care for most outcomes

(HealthDay News) — For children with functional constipation (FC), pelvic physical therapy (PPT) is more effective than standard medical care (SMC) for almost all outcomes measured, according to a study published in the January issue of Gastroenterology.

Marieke L. van Engelenburg-van Lonkhuyzen, from Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a multicenter trial involving 53 children (age, 5 to 16 years) with FC according to the Rome III criteria. Participants were randomized to SMC (26 children), which included education, toilet training, and laxatives, or to PPT (27 children), which included SMC plus specific physiotherapeutic interventions. The primary outcome was the absence of FC after a six-month follow-up period.

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The researchers found that treatment was effective for 92.3 and 63.0 percent of children receiving PPT and SMC, respectively (adjusted odds ratio for success of PPT, 11.7). Laxative use was stopped by significantly more children undergoing PPT (adjusted odds ratio, 6.5). Treatment success was achieved for 88.5 and 33.3 percent of children receiving PPT and SMC, respectively. PPT also produced larger mean differences in numeric rating scales to assess quality of life for parents and children before versus after treatment. There was no significant between-group difference in the results from the strengths and difficulties questionnaire.

"PPT should be considered as a treatment option for FC in children 5 to 16 years old," the authors write.

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