People with central neurological disease or injury have a much higher risk of both faecal incontinence and constipation than the general population. There is often a fine line between the two symptoms, with any management intended to ameliorate one risking precipitating the other. Bowel problems are observed to be the cause of much anxiety and may reduce quality of life in these people. Current bowel management is largely empirical, with a limited research base. This is an update of a Cochrane review first published in 2001 and subsequently updated in 2003 and 2006. The review is relevant to individuals with any disease directly and chronically affecting the central nervous system (post-traumatic, degenerative, ischaemic or neoplastic), such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, cerebrovascular disease, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.