Diastasis Recti: Debunking Myths, Treatments Are Available

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 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 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 tory.

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 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 endure discomfort when remedies are available.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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