Motility disorders

A motility disorder is a condition where the nerves and muscles in the gastrointestinal tract are not working together correctly.

Watch for these signs

One symptom of a motility disorder is constipation. A child who is constipated usually has two or fewer bowel movements per week. Children who are constipated often position their bodies differently — like arching their back, holding on to furniture or squeezing their buttocks together — to avoid having a bowel movement.

Parents may notice that their child passes a large stool that sometimes can be as large as a soda can. This is a sign of constipation.

Other symptoms of a motility disorder may include:

  • A swollen stomach
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Treatment options

Functional constipation does not mean the child has a gastrointestinal disease, but only that he or she has painful bowel movements. To help treat functional constipation, children should eat a lot of high-fiber foods — such as fruit, vegetables and grains — and drink plenty of water. Laxatives are sometimes recommended to help ensure regular bowel movements.

For some children, fiber, fluids and laxatives don’t help, and they continue to suffer from constipation. In these cases, parents should seek treatment from an expert. Our specialists in the pediatric neurogastroenterology, motility and autonomic disorders program are nationally recognized experts in the diagnosis and treatment of motility disorders.