Identifying Underlying Emotional Instability and Utilizing a Combined Intervention in the Treatment of Childhood Constipation and Encopresis-A Case Report

J Altern Complement Med. 2016 Jun;22(6):489-92. doi: 10.1089/acm.2015.0093. Epub 2016 May 10.


Background: Childhood constipation is a common ailment that in certain cases can lead to encopresis or fecal incontinence. The literature suggests that standard care varies in effectiveness, especially in the long term. Fecal incontinence can lead to frustration, guilt, and shame for both the child and family and has untold long-term psychological and physical consequences.

Objective: To address alternative treatment options for pediatric constipation and encopresis by using acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Patient and Setting: This is a case study of a 6-year-old girl seen in a private practice acupuncture clinic in the northwestern United States.

Intervention: Treatment involved acupuncture, massage, and Chinese herbal medicine.

Results: The patient in this study began to have regular bowel movements on her own, from a type 5 on the modified Bristol Stool Form Scale for Children to a type 3, with no laxative use and few to no fecal accidents.

Conclusions: Emotional stability and support seem to play an important role in pediatric constipation and encopresis. Acupuncture may be an effective treatment option in the integrative care model to address both the emotional and physical components of childhood constipation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Child
  • Constipation / therapy*
  • Encopresis / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Massage*
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*
  • Mood Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome