Another common complaint that many women have postpartum or following abdominal surgery is abdominal separation or diastasis recti abdominis. Many women will report feeling bloated, achy, swollen, and weak in the abdominals and have tried several different exercise programs to resolve it. Well, we are here to help you get rid of that “pooch”!
Diastasis Recti Abdominis or “DRA” is a separation of the abdominal muscles that run parallel down your stomach and make up your “six pack”. During pregnancy, the uterus moves up into the abdomen and stretches the linea alba (connective tissue) between the rectus abdominus muscles to make room for the growing baby. More than 98% of women have a diastasis after 35 weeks of pregnancy to allow for the baby to fully develop, however in roughly 70% of women the abdominal muscles will come back together within a few months postpartum. In the other 30% of cases, women may need some extra education on how to properly activate their core and things to avoid while they are still healing post-partum.
The majority of women will notice some form of stomach bulging, bloating, or lack of stability throughout their abdomen and they can visibly see a gap between their abdominal muscles that makes them seek out help. However, some may present with a variety of other symptoms as well including urinary leakage/incontinence, low back pain, hip pain, difficulty with bowel movements, or pelvic floor muscle pain that can all be associated with Diastasis Recti. You may notice that the diastasis becomes more obvious as you become more physically active or are lifting heavy things like your children. In addition, people may notice an increase in DRA following multiple pregnancies, larger babies, or twins/triplets/etc.
The treatment approach for DRA depends on how large the separation is and how long it has been since symptoms first started, however regardless of size and length of time there are still exercises and things you can do to help heal your diastasis. Our specialized physical therapist will assess several different parts of the body including abdominal muscles, hip muscles, pelvic floor muscles, and low back muscles to make sure that all are functioning appropriately in order to support each other, as well as check your posture and breathing mechanics to make sure you are helping your muscles work in the best position they can!
North Carolina is a direct access state for physical therapy services therefore a physician’s referral is not required unless you are using Medicare insurance. We do communicate with your medical providers as needed to improve your care.
A complete physical evaluation is completed based on your concerns. Often this includes examination of your movement, core and pelvic floor muscles as indicated. Treatment and begin the same day as the initial consultation.
Together we will develop your treatment plan based on your needs. The exact number of visits is unique to symptoms but on average our patients benefit from 6-8 treatment visits.