Which medications are used to manage constipation in multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Updated: Oct 08, 2019
  • Author: Christopher Luzzio, MD; Chief Editor: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA  more...
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Pharmacologic management of constipation includes stool softeners, bulk formers, or laxatives. Stool softeners, such as docusate sodium, work by decreasing surface tension, allowing water to enter the stool. Bulk formers (eg, Metamucil, Per Diem, Citrucel, FiberCon) work by increasing the bulk and weight of the stool. Laxatives act as an irritant to the bowel, increasing peristalsis; they generally work within 8-12 hours. Examples include milk of magnesia and Peri-Colace.

For patients with a neurogenic bowel or with poor abdominal muscle tone, rectal suppositories may be part of an effective bowel program that can help prevent incontinence episodes. Suppositories provide rectal stimulation and lubricate the stool. Typically, they act within 30 minutes to 1 hour. Examples include bisacodyl and glycerin.

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