What Is Diastasis Recti and What Are the Symptoms - Legacy Physical Therapy
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What Is Diastasis Recti and What Are the Symptoms

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Diastasis recti is a common condition where the rectus abdominal muscles separate. It can occur at any age but is most common after childbirth, affecting around two-thirds of women postpartum. It occurs when the connective tissue that holds your abdominal muscles together becomes weakened or stretched over time, allowing them to separate.

The primary cause of diastasis recti is excessive strain and poor pressure management on the midline tissues during pregnancy and between pregnancies. Other risk factors include advanced maternal age, multiple births, obesity, genetics, and general tissue mobility.

Common symptoms associated with diastasis recti are abdominal bulging, weakness in the abdomen muscles, abdominal coning, lower back pain, and mommy’s tummy. It is important to note that diastasis recti should not be confused with an abdominal hernia, which is an entirely different medical issue, but it is possible to have both a hernia and diastasis recti at the same time.

Diastasis recti can usually be managed through exercise, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes to manage intra-abdominal pressure. Seek advice from your healthcare provider before starting any treatment.

For most women, diastasis recti will improve within six months postpartum if proper care is taken. Surgery may be necessary in extreme cases or when other treatments are not successful.

What Are The Causes of Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti is a medical condition that occurs when the abdominal muscles become separated, resulting in a bulge of the abdomen. It is most commonly seen in pregnant women, but can also occur in men and non-pregnant women.

The condition is often caused by weakened connective tissue and overstretching due to excessive pressure on the abdomen such as during pregnancy or extreme weightlifting.

Some other common causes of diastasis recti include rapid weight gain, age-related weakening of the abdominal muscles, repetitive strain from activities such as running or sit-ups, or even genetics.

In addition to these causes, it can also be caused by incorrect posture which puts additional strain on the abdominal wall and eventually weakens the connective tissue.

The diagnosis of diastasis recti usually involves a physical exam by a healthcare provider where they will feel for any separation between the two sets of abdominal muscles. While there is no universal cure for this condition as each person is different in how their diastasis presents and heals. There are various treatments that can help alleviate symptoms and reduce further damage to the abdomen such as core strengthening, posture exercises, instruction in abdominal pressure management, and potentially taping or use of an abdominal support.

What Are the Symptoms of Diastasis Recti? 

Diastasis recti can cause several physical symptoms. These may include a bulging or coming in the middle of the abdomen, an inability to draw in the abdominal muscles, back pain, weak core muscles, and urinary incontinence.

DRA variation
DRA variation

Additionally, women with diastasis recti may experience difficulty with posture and pelvic floor issues such as constipation or painful intercourse.

People with diastasis recti should be aware that certain activities can make their condition worse. Heavy lifting or attempts at advanced ab exercises can add unnecessary pressure to the abdominal wall and worsen the separation of muscles. There are no bad exercises, but attention needs to be paid to how you are performing the exercises. Once you learn how to properly recruit your abdominals and control intra-abdominal pressure you can progress on to more challenging exercises.

It is important for people experiencing any of the above symptoms to visit their healthcare provider. A physical examination is usually enough to diagnose diastasis recti and a pelvic physical therapist can recommend treatment options that best fit each individual’s needs.

How Can Physical Therapy Help With Diastasis Recti?

As pelvic health specialists, we have a wide range of approaches to help treat diastasis recti. Our primary focus is on helping our patients develop the proper core strength and stability to support their trunks, minimize any additional strain or pressure on their abdominal muscles, and reduce the symptoms associated with diastasis recti.

We employ various techniques such as manual therapy to release tension in the abdominal wall, therapeutic exercises to improve the strength and coordination of core musculature, Kinesio taping for support and proprioceptive feedback, breathing retraining to optimize intra-abdominal pressure control, postural re-education to promote better ergonomics during daily activities, and patient education about healthy lifestyle changes.

At our clinic, we take a holistic approach to treating diastasis recti, taking into account individual factors such as pain level, fitness level, and lifestyle. With this comprehensive approach, we can tailor a program specifically for each patient’s needs, helping them to regain the strength and stability they need to manage their symptoms and live a full life.

Through our week-long programs, patients can expect to gain the necessary tools to help prevent the recurrence of diastasis recti symptoms and learn how to better support their core throughout daily activities.

Are You Struggling To Find Treatment That Works for You?

Have you been suffering from symptoms of diastasis recti and are looking for the next steps in your treatment? Then make sure that you contact us at Legacy Physical Therapy to start the conversation on how to best treat these issues.

We understand that you want to stay active, and do the things you love, and know that when struggling with pelvic organ prolapse it can have you feeling defeated. That is why we recommend that you come to see us so we can help you understand the best ways to keep active and enjoy life without concerns regarding prolapse.

If you are struggling with the symptoms mentioned above, we would love to invite you for a Diastasis Recti Assessment, which will enable you to get a full diagnosis and help you get answers on ways you can treat or prevent pain.

You can contact us by telephone at (636) 225-3649 to claim your diastasis recti assessment.

Other Free Resources To Help You With Pain You May Be Experiencing

Download our free Bladder Control Issues, Pelvic Pain, and Pelvic Organ Prolapse Pain reports.

Read our blog – Top 10 Misconceptions About Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Read our blog – The 5’s of Pelvic Floor Function

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