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Shriners Children's provides specialized care for children with chronic constipation.

The goal of our colorectal and gastrointestinal specialty care is to provide children with anal-rectal disorders advanced treatment and rehabilitation that frees them from social stigma and allows them to live and play like other children.

What is Chronic Constipation?

Constipation in children is a common problem and many children experience it during childhood. Chronic constipation is different and can be more complicated to treat. Chronic constipation happens when a child is having trouble passing stool for an extended period of time. Chronic constipation can lead to long-term discomfort and loss of bowel control. Fortunately, most cases of chronic constipation in children are temporary.

Shriners Children’s bowel management care is led by a specialized team dedicated to providing children with behavioral, medical and nutritional therapies they need to successfully overcome chronic constipation./p>

What Are the Symptoms of a Child with Chronic Constipation?

  • Having less than 3 bowel movements per week
  • Straining
  • The inability to pass stool
  • Bowel movements that are hard, dry and difficult to pass
  • Pain while having a bowel movement
  • Stomach pain
  • Traces of liquid or pasty stool in your child's underwear — a sign that stool is backed up in the rectum
  • Blood on the surface of hard stool

How We Care for Children with Chronic Constipation

Children with chronic constipation are typically admitted to our outpatient bowel management program, where a team of specialists educate, diagnose and create an individualized treatment plan for the child.

When patients have not achieved success on an outpatient basis, children are seen for more intensive care in the inpatient bowel management program, which is also tailored to the unique needs of each patient and family.

When your child is seen in either of our bowel management programs, they have the input of social workers, child life specialists, nurses, dietitians and physicians. We run weekly multidisciplinary meetings discussing all of the upcoming patients to make sure that each child receives the input of each of our team members.

The goal is for your child to empty their bowel daily with no accidents and have control over their bowels.

We provide follow-up care to monitor your child’s health, prevent problems, manage symptoms and give your child the best quality of life.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Understanding your Child's Colorectal and Gastrointestinal (GI) Appointment(s)

On the first visit, parents and children typically come for a group overview and educational presentation about bowel management. Our doctors and nurses explain the medicines, enemas and diets we use as treatment options. Each family has a one-on-one clinic visit with a provider from the program to make a plan for their child.

If referred to one of our locations for a more complex condition or surgery, you and your child go directly to the one-on-one visit with one of our providers to build an individualized plan of care.

Sometimes, when deemed appropriate, your child may have a bowel X-ray. This helps us with diagnoses and check whether your child’s plan is working. A nurse from our program will talk with you either in person or by phone to discuss your child’s results.

Our goal is for your child to empty their bowel daily with no accidents and to live with as few limitations as possible. Success depends on your child’s condition and following your plan closely.

How We Support Your Child’s Total Health and Well-Being

Families and patients say that Shriners Children’s feels like home to them, and it's no wonder to us. We know that a child's needs go beyond the physical. Our care teams support their social, emotional and developmental health with patient programs and activities.

A few examples include:

Our care team was really amazing. The doctors gave so much thought to Mathew’s different treatment options, so that he could live like any other kid.
Tiffany, Sacramento
female patient and physician talking

A Bowel Management Program Made for Children

Trouble with bowel control (fecal incontinence) can lead to struggles at home, in school, in friendships, with emotions, behavior and mental health. Many incontinent children can be more active, social, happy and independent if they have a plan for bowel management that works for them. Our program is designed with YOU in mind.

Treatments for Chronic Constipation

View All Related Treatments

Alternatives to Rectal Enemas

Our team provides individualized diets, laxatives and psychosocial therapy to provide relief for children with constipation.


Shriners Children's pediatric surgeons perform this surgery to correct anorectal malformations that cause painful bowel movements. It involves the reconstruction of the anus to stretch or enlarge the opening where stool drains.

Colonic Irrigation

This alleviates immobile stool in the colon, preventing bacterial overgrowth and colitis. Our team teaches parents to perform colonic irrigation effectively at home.

Colon Resection

Colon resections, also referred to as sigmoid resections or bowel resections, are performed by our pediatric surgeons. The procedure involves removing part of the bowel to treat and prevent diseases and conditions that affect the colon.

Gastrostomy Tube Placement

A gastrostomy tube (G-tube) is placed in the stomach as a feeding tube for children who cannot get enough nutrition by mouth. Shriners Children’s uses G-tubes for children with esophageal, stomach or intestinal problems.


An ileostomy helps waste and gas exit the body without passing through the colon or rectum. An Ileostomy is typically used when a disease is preventing the colon from working properly or the colon has to be removed.

Ostomy Creation and Closure

Ostomy procedures change the way a child's urine or stool exits their body because of problems with their digestive or urinary system. Ostomies can be temporary or permanent.

Rectal Botox

Rectal Botox injections relax the sphincter muscles slightly, making it easier for a child to pass stool. Shriners Children's considers this method before surgical options.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.