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Functional bowel disorders are conditions that affect how your stomach and bowels work. They can be disabling, painful, and embarrassing, and they can impact up to 20 percent of adults in the U.S. Unfortunately, medical or surgical therapies available to treat these conditions are limited.

Team Approach to Diagnosis and Care

The program offers a unique care approach by integrating gastroenterology, behavioral medicine and nutrition services. In a state-of-the-art, comprehensive motility lab, the program brings together a team of:

  • Gastroenterologists
  • Colorectal surgeons
  • Behavioral psychologists
  • Dietitians
  • Physical therapists

To establish a diagnosis, we use cutting-edge techniques, which may include:

  • Anorectal manometry with balloon expulsion testing
  • Breath testing for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and carbohydrate malabsorption
  • Endoanal ultrasonography
  • Sacral nerve stimulation

Innovative Therapies

At Northwestern Medicine, we stress the importance of treating both the physiological and psychological aspects of functional bowel and motility disorders. Our treatments can range from traditional medicine to evidence-based complementary strategies.

The team of renowned faculty from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has shaped the nationwide approach to these conditions and established the effectiveness of multiple advanced therapies to treat conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, opioid-induced constipation, fecal incontinence and gastroparesis.

It is well established that your brain affects your gut and plays a critical role in the potential onset and maintenance of functional bowel symptoms. Further, patients with functional bowel disorders can mistakenly make symptoms worse by attempting to control their symptoms without medical supervision. Gut-directed cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy are evidence-based treatments that focus on helping patients learn skills related to managing and reducing their abdominal pain or altered bowel habits.

Learn more about behavioral therapy for functional bowel disorders.

In addition, optimal nutrition is vital for health, and particularly important for people with digestive problems.

Registered dietitians trained in gastroenterology provide state-of-the art medical nutrition therapy for a range of digestive diseases. Not only are we up-to-date on the latest gastrointestinal friendly diets, our team has the necessary training and skills to optimize eating behaviors that provide the best results for patients with digestive diseases.

Meet the Team

Physician using a small-scale toy stomach to demonstrate something to patients
The Functional Bowel and Neurogastromotility team works collaboratively on effective treatment plans that are individualized for each patient. Our team focuses on treating both the physiological and psychological aspects of functional bowel and motility disorders.

Meet the Downtown Functional Bowel and Neurogastromotility Team

Conditions

Locations & Contact Information

    Putting Constipation Into Context

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    In this episode of Better Edge, Darren M. Brenner, MD, a gastroenterologist at Northwestern Medicine, discusses chronic constipation, its prevalence, risk factors, subtypes, and treatment options. He uses specific symptom-based criteria to define constipation, such as frequency, texture, straining, sensations of incomplete evacuation, a sensation of mechanical obstruction and the performance of manual maneuvers. Join us as Dr. Brenner puts constipation into context..

    Gastroparesis Podcast

    19-731 NM_Podcast-icons

    In this episode of the Better Edge podcast, Joy Jia Liu, MD, gastroenterologist and instructor of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Northwestern Medicine, talks about the causes and prevalence of gastroparesis as well as the approaches Northwestern Medicine takes to treat gastroparesis. She goes into detail about the best practices for managing it and covers the difference between gastroparesis and functional dyspepsia.

    Gastroenterology Professionals

    Our faculty members represent specialists from the complete range of digestive diseases and Hepatology.