Diastasis Recti: Debunking Myths, Treatments Are Available

diastatis-recti
Diastasis Recti is a condition that affects more than half of all pregnant women, and it can also affect newborns as well. The term diastasis means to separate, and the abdominal wall is the area indicated by the term recti. Although it is less common in the male population, it can happen to those who engage in certain types of diets and exercise routines.

The name of this condition describes the separation between the left and right portions of the abdominal wall. During pregnancy, the tissues in the abdomen can become stretched beyond their capacity to maintain their shape. At this point, the abdominal walls may separate.

Signs of Diastasis Recti

Once the walls of the abdomen are stretched, the area becomes weaker than normal. This becomes more likely to happen as the woman increases the number of pregnancies. This condition is not directly painful, but it can cause secondary problems. Healthcare providers agree that this condition can occur any time during a pregnancy, so periodic testing is encouraged.

Examples include:

  •  Breathing difficulties
  •  Urinary infections
  •  Back or hip pain

In some cases, the sacroiliac joint can be affected because of the reciprocal relationship between supporting muscle groups.

Testing Methods

The test for Diastasis Recti is relatively simple. The patient lies on the back with the feet flat on the floor. The patient must lift the head from the ground until the shoulders also come off the ground. The clinician then measures the distance between the abdominal walls near the navel. If the gap is wider than two centimeters, the test is considered positive, according to Boissonnault, 1998. Once a positive test is performed, there are several treatment options available. This condition should not remain untreated.

Treatment Options

Physical therapists and other soft-tissue therapists have treatment techniques that can encourage the abdominal muscles to revert back to their original shape. Because the abdominal wall was changed because of extreme stretching, the approach of strengthening this area makes a lot of sense.

Physical therapists specialize in strengthening specific muscle groups for therapeutic purposes, and additional techniques are constantly being added to the existing inventory.

Current techniques used by physical therapists for increasing the strength of the abdominal wall may include:

  •  Tupler technique
  •  Specialized Diastasis splints
  •  Abdominal binders
  •  Modified Pilates
  •  Customized exercises

Consulting a Qualified Therapist

Not all of these options are going to be appropriate for every person. For example, the abdominal binders are only indicated during the first stages of the pregnancy. Customized exercises are effective at reducing the likelihood of this condition developing during pregnancy, but the patient must perform them correctly to achieve the best results. At the same time, pregnant women should avoid specific types of exercises like crunches and sit-ups.

The physical therapist can also help patients to coordinate the breathing with gentle movements when getting out of bed first thing in the morning. These breathing techniques can also be helpful when performing other movements because they relieve the pressure on the abdominal wall. The most important thing to remember is that this condition can be treated right away, so there is no need to endure discomfort when remedies are available.