Recurring Bowel Obstructions

Excellent Results Decreasing/Stopping Bowel Obstructions

90%[I] 67%[II] 35%[III] 67%[IV] 83%[V]
Preventing Surgery Pain Reduction Improved Diet Improved  Quality of Life Decreased Medications

These remarkable images show the power of the Clear Passage®️ Approach to clear bowel obstructions without surgery. Scheduled for emergency surgery, this patient had two obstructions in her intestine. On the left, we see “BEFORE” images of

  • A 3-inch long ‘string stricture’ in the lower bowel that was about as narrow as a coffee straw, and
  • An ‘hourglass obstruction’ in the upper bowel.

As shown here, images taken AFTER Clear Passage®️ (only) showed that the therapy cleared both obstructions – without surgery.

Bowel obstruction is a serious, life-threatening condition, often caused by adhesions. Bowel obstruction surgery is the second most common emergency room surgery, and carries the highest complication rate [VI]. Surgery to repair blocked bowels can result in additional adhesions and more blockages. 

During therapy, we use over 200 manual techniques we developed to clear the blockage and instruct you in self-treatment techniques to clear your intestines of adhesions and help you to avoid future obstructions. 

Complete our online Request Consultation form to receive a free phone consultation with an expert therapist and learn more.

Causes and Frequencies of Bowel Obstructions

A bowel obstruction often occurs due to adhesions (internal scars) that form in the small intestines (small bowel) and sometimes in the large intestines (colon). Adhesions form as the first step in healing from a surgery, infection, inflammation or trauma. Adhesions are a primary cause of obstruction, or blockage in the bowel. Regardless of where they form, adhesions join structures with strong glue-like bonds that prevent them from functioning properly.

Adhesions may form as curtains or ropes within or between the loops of the bowel, completely blocking the passage designed to transport food. When these adhesions prevent the body from processing food, a bowel obstruction can quickly become a life-threatening condition.

Symptoms of a Bowel Obstruction

The first indication of a bowel obstruction is often severe pain, nausea or vomiting accompanied by difficulty or inability to pass gas or stool. Blocked from its normal clear passage, food becomes backed up. The intestines stop functioning, preventing the patient from eating or eliminating waste.

A more comprehensive list of bowel obstruction symptoms include:

  • No bowel sounds
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps that come and go
  • Diarrhea (if bowel is partially blocked)
  • Swelling or bloating of the stomach (distention)
  • Pain or tenderness around or just below the belly button
  • Constipation and the inability to pass gas (sign of complete blockage)

If you experience severe abdominal pain or other bowel obstruction symptoms, you should seek immediate medical care.

Non-Surgical Treatment for Bowel Obstruction (Clear Passage®️ Approach)

Clear Passage®️ has over three decades of experience decreasing the adhesions that cause obstructions, without surgery. We have published studies in peer-reviewed U.S. and international medical journals.

‘Before and After’ images by independent radiologists show that CP therapy can clear bowel obstructions and strictures (narrowing of the bowel.)

The Clear Passage® Approach is a very site-specific manual therapy, the result of decades of study and investigation by Clear Passage®️ staff. Like peeling apart the run in a three-dimensional sweater, this non-surgical technique focuses on reducing or eliminating adhesions, cross-link by cross-link (bond by bond).

This therapy has been credited with saving lives and returning normal lifestyles to many people, including those who suffer from recurring bowel obstructions. Clear Passage®️ therapists have had many successes decreasing or eliminating the adhesions that block the intestines. They have broken the repetitive “adhesion-obstruction-surgery” cycle that many of their patients describe as their life before Clear Passage®️.

Contraindications for Treatment

We regret that we generally cannot treat patients who have active cancer, have had surgery in the last 90 days, or are currently in the hospital or other in-patient facility. In general, we want our patients to be cancer free 18 months prior to therapy. We do allow some exceptions; contact us for more information.

Other Medical Treatments (Drugs, Surgery)

Once hospitalized with a bowel obstruction, the patient will generally have a nasogastric (NG) tube passed through the nose and into the stomach to relieve pressure. Physicians then place a PICC line into a vein to draw blood, or to give the patient nutrition, pain medications, etc. Then, the medical team will wait to see if the obstruction clears on its own.

If the obstruction does not clear, patients generally have to undergo surgery as the primary method to clear small bowel obstructions. While this surgery can save the lives of those in immediate danger, obstructions tend to recur for many patients as post-surgical adhesions form in the months or years after surgery. Thus, many patients find themselves in a repeating cycle of “adhesions-obstruction-surgery-adhesions,” with no end in sight.

Surgical repair of the bowel generally involves cutting deeply into the body under general anesthesia to access the intestines. The physician often cuts through the bowel to remove the obstructed area. Finally, he reattaches the (now shortened) bowel ends.

While surgical lysis of bowel adhesions can be effective and save lives, it has some major drawbacks:

  • It carries the risks associated with general anesthesia.
  • It carries the risk of infection deep within the body (peritonitis) from spillage of bowel contents into the abdomen. A single drop of bowel contents escaping into the body cavity can cause an infection in the body that requires another surgery, and/or significant quantities of antibiotics to clear. Perhaps for this reason, about 1 in 5 (18%) of bowel resection patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days after their surgery (per U.S. Dept. of Health). 
  • Sometimes, the second surgical wound is left open, to allow the body to heal from the inside. This can cause a considerable amount of internal scarring (adhesions).
  • Despite the best skills of the finest surgeon, the body often creates more adhesions as it heals from the very surgery designed to remove them.

A study in Digestive Surgery found that more than 90% of patients develop adhesions after open abdominal surgery and 55% to 100% of women develop adhesions following pelvic surgery. (Liakakos et al., 2001) Another study reported that 35% of all open abdominal or pelvic surgery patients were readmitted to the hospital more than twice to treat post-surgical adhesions during the 10 years after their original surgery. (Ellis et al., 1999) Thus, abdominal surgery has been identified as a major cause of adhesion formation, leaving many patients trapped in the “surgery-adhesions-surgery” cycle described earlier.

Published Studies and Success Rates – Clear Passage®️ Physical Therapy

To view a complete list of published success rates treating Bowel Obstructions with Clear Passage®️, please visit our Bowel Obstruction Success Rates page

Decreasing Adhesions: Adhesions after surgery are the primary cause of bowel obstructions. The Clear Passage® Approach (CP) has been shown in several peer-reviewed medical journals to reduce adhesions, decrease pain and improve soft tissue mobility without the risks of surgery or drugs.

A landmark controlled study published in the (World Journal of Gastroenterology) (2018) was co-authored by surgeons from Stanford and Washington University medical schools. The study compared the rate of repeat small bowel obstructions (SBO) and quality of life among patients who received CP therapy vs. those who did not receive the therapy. During a three-year period, 103 patients were treated with CP. 90-day outcomes were compared to 136 patients who received no therapy – the usual standard of care. Click here to view of some of the most pertinent results.

After 90 days, 15% of patients who did not receive the therapy had repeat total SBO; only 1% of the CP treated patients had SBO. In addition, the non-treated group underwent roughly three times more repeat surgeries than those who received CP.

Domains of diet, pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, quality of life and pain severity improved significantly (p<0.0001) for all CP treated patients. Statistical analysis showed a significant increase after CP therapy for all six measures of trunk mobility: flexion, extension, L&R sidebending, L&R rotation. (multiplicity adjusted p-values<0.05).

Earlier studies (Wurn et al., 2004b; Wurn et al., 2008; Rice et al., 2013b; Wurn et al., 2011; Rice et al., 2015b)  indicate that the results of our therapy are safe, and long-lasting. (Rice & King, 2015; Rice et al., 2014)

In addition, published studies and citations have shown our ability to open adhered structures as tiny as fallopian tubes (Wurn et al., 2006, Wurn et al., 2008), organs that are much smaller and even less accessible than the intestine (bowel).

Clear Passage®️ therapists are experts at reducing adhesions and preventing bowel obstruction, without surgery.

Treating Recurring Bowel Obstructions:

No matter how skilled the surgeon, most pelvic and abdominal surgeries cause new adhesions as the body heals from the surgery, according to medical studies. (Liakakos et al., 2001)

Publications in medical journals and textbooks in 2015 and 2016 give good measures of our success in this area. Some of those are shown below. 

Treating Small Bowel Obstruction with a Manual Physical Therapy: a Prospective Efficacy Study was published to test the safety and efficacy of our work as an abstract in the journal Gastroenterology. We presented this to 15,000 U.S. and international gastroenterologists and staff at the annual Digestive Disease Week meeting in Washington, D.C. in May of 2015. Scientists designed this study as an initial test of the safety and efficacy of the Clear Passage® Approach on a group of people with recurring small bowel obstructions (n=27). The full study was published the following year in BioMed Research International (2016). The abstract and the full study are accessible via PubMed (the National Institute of Health’s search engine), or by clicking the links above.

Adhesions commonly form after surgery, infection or inflammation. Post-surgical adhesions are the primary cause of small bowel obstruction (SBO) – a life-threatening condition that prevents food from passing through the digestive tract.

Results: The therapy was found safe. Effectiveness was shown on all six measurable domains for these patients with significant improvements in pain severity, overall pain, gastrointestinal symptoms and overall quality of life. The study noted improved diet and decreased medication requirements. Significant improvements were noted in all six measures of trunk range of motion (flexion/extension, left/right side bending, left/right rotation), likely due to the decrease of adhesive bonds within treated subjects’ abdomen and pelvis. These increases all added to the patients’ quality of life, the authors noted. 

Earlier Published Case Studies:

A 2013 study in the Journal of Clinical Medicine demonstrated the effectiveness of the Clear Passage®️ Approach in treating bowel obstructions. Study participants with complex surgical histories and adhesions reported no symptoms after receiving the hands-on therapy. Each reported lasting pain relief and avoidance of further SBOs after therapy. “Before and after” X-rays in one patient showed obstructions and strictures cleared after therapy. Another participant was able to cancel a scheduled bowel surgery after attending therapy. (Rice et al., 2013b)

No matter how skilled the surgeon, most pelvic and abdominal surgeries cause new adhesions as the body heals from the surgery, according to medical studies. (Liakakos et al., 2001)
Like pulling apart the run in a sweater, we use our hands to peel apart the tiny but powerful strands that are the building-blocks of adhesions.

A study published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine in 2013 showed total reversal of bowel obstruction in a terminally-ill patient. Before therapy, the patient lived with recurring SBOs, repeat surgeries, pain and dysfunction. She received nutrition intravenously, via PICC lines. After receiving the non-surgical therapy, she was able to have the PICC line removed because she could eat a normal diet, greatly increasing her quality of life. (Rice et al., 2013a)

To date, we have successfully cleared obstructed bowels in scores of patients. In a paper presented to an international conference of gastroenterologists and staff (Rice et al., 2015b), CPA was shown to improve 5 of 7 key components of quality of life for patients who suffer recurring bowel obstructions. In addition to cancelling planned surgeries, therapy has allowed our bowel obstruction patients to manage their own symptoms without fear of any additional bowel obstructions.


To read previous patient success stories, please visit our testimonial page.

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