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Do Paraplegics Use Colostomy Bags?

Paraplegia is a condition in which the lower half of the body becomes paralyzed which includes both legs.

This occurs due to some sort of injury to the spinal cord. Living with paraplegia poses unique challenges; one of them is loss of normal bowel and bladder function, which can be managed by medication, diet, and by changing their routine. One of the most frequently asked questions is do paraplegics use colostomy bags. The answer is, absolutely yes, paraplegics can easily use colostomy bags to manage their bowel movements,

This article will delve into the topic to provide a comprehensive understanding of the use of colostomy bags among paraplegics. So let’s get started.

Understanding Paraplegia:

Paraplegia is a condition characterized by the loss of function in the lower half of the body, typically due to spinal cord injuries. This impairment can affect bowel and bladder control, leading to challenges in daily activities that many take for granted.

Due to loss of sensation paraplegics do not find it necessary to poop out. Also, in some cases, paraplegics are not able to tell when stool has passed. Since the sphincters in the digestive tract have been paralyzed, due to which paraplegics are unable to control their bowel movements. It has been observed that paraplegics also suffer from chronic constipation as they are unable to fully evacuate their bowel. In the presence of these challenges, it is difficult for paraplegics to have regular and controlled bowel movements.

Read More: How to keep ostomy bag from leaking

Colostomy Bags and paraplegia

A colostomy bag is a medical device that collects waste from the digestive system when the natural path for elimination is altered. The colon is diverted through an opening in the abdomen called a stoma. A colostomy bag is attached to the stoma and collects all the body waste. This keeps the paraplegics neat and clean with no mess at all.

In fact, colostomy could be really helpful for those individuals who have got irreversible and severe bowel dysfunction.

Related: How long after colostomy surgery can you drink alcohol

Benefits of using Colostomy bags for paraplegic patients:

Colostomy bags are really useful for paraplegics in the following ways:

  • They give a more reliable and predictable bowel routine
  • With the help of a colostomy bag, one can completely evacuate its bowel movement without soiling himself.
  • complete evacuation leads to zero constipation
  • Less chances of developing sores
  • Colostomy bags are easier to manage than diapers or any other medical equipment

In fact, one cannot deny the fact that colostomy bags have improved the life quality of paraplegics. However, there are also certain disadvantages of using colostomy bags:

  • output leakage may occur from colostomy bag
  • Skin inflammation or infection may occur around the stoma
  • Switching towards a colostomy bag requires an invasive colostomy surgery.

The pros of using colostomy bags outweigh the cons. This clearly indicates that using a colostomy bag is a safe and reliable way to control bowel dysfunction in paraplegics.

Complications of colostomy:

Certain complications are associated with colostomy which is not only present in paraplegics but also in normal healthy individuals with colostomy surgery. These are:


Since the muscles around the stoma are weak they may bulge out due to pressure. In order to avoid this condition, it is therefore advised to wear support belts. Hernia can be corrected with surgery. But it is better to do some protective measures rather than opting for another surgery.

Related: Flying with an ostomy bag

Skin irritation:

One of the biggest complications of using a colostomy bag is the skin inflammation around the stoma which occurs due to contact of digestive enzymes with the skin. The skin then appears reddened and itchy just like a rash. Output leakage leads to this dreadful situation, so output leakage should be properly managed to avoid skin inflammation.

Bowel obstruction:

If the intestine twists or gets blocked due to dehydration, a bad diet, or internal scarring, it can block the colostomy. This can lead to pain, nausea, and vomiting, and it needs quick medical attention.

Read Here: Colostomy but still pooping

Care routine of paraplegics with colostomy bag:

Like every other health condition, attaching a colostomy bag requires constant care. Since paraplegics have little bodily movement, their caregiver will have to remain alert about bag colostomy bag changing and cleaning. Care routine of colostomy include:

  • Changing the colostomy bag as per the requirement
  • keep the stoma or skin around the stoma clean
  • During bowel movement, if required, occlude the stoma.
  • To have normal stool consistency, maintain a proper diet, and consume a good amount of water
  • prevent food that may cause ballooning of colostomy bag
  • Keep stock of supplies like wet wipes, adhesive wafers, and colostomy pouch.
  • In case of any skin infection, proper care should be given.

Guide: How Often to Change Colostomy Bag

What happens to people with paraplegia after they get a colostomy?

Adjusting to paraplegia and having a colostomy has both challenges and benefits:

Regaining Independence: Getting control over bowel movements helps people feel more independent and dignified, especially if they had problems with incontinence before.

Reduced Health Issues: Having a colostomy can lead to fewer health problems like sores from getting dirty.

Active Participation: People can take part more in work, relationships, and activities without worrying about bowel control issues.


To sum it up, when paraplegia and colostomy come together, it brings both problems and ways to deal with them for the people going through it. Using colostomy bags is a helpful solution for those with serious bowel issues. These bags help create a regular routine for bowel movements and lower the chances of constipation and sores. However, there are certain complications and cons associated with the use of colostomy bags which are totally nullified in the presence of its advantages. Colostomy bags contribute significantly to enhancing the quality of life for paraplegics, providing a means to regain independence, dignity, and active participation in various aspects of life.

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