Chesapeake Physical and Aquatic Therapy
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Diastesis Recti. A common postpartum condition.

What is Diastesis Recti?
Diatesis Recti, also known as abdominal separation, is a common condition where the central abdominal muscle called the rectus abdominus becomes separated due to stretching of the connective tissue. This can cause a “pooch� appearance in the abdomen. It most commonly occurs in pregnant and postpartum women, but can also occur in both babies and men. A side effect of Diastesis Recti is an umbilical or ventral hernia due to the laxity in connective tissue. In pregnancy, this condition is extremely common and there is little treatment, but postpartum there are exercises and braces to be worn to assist with closure.

How is Diastesis Recti diagnosed?
With the patient lying on their back, knees bent to 90 degrees and feet flat, the head and neck are actively lifted off the floor/bed. The examiner will place three fingers horizontally starting at the level of the umbilicus, or belly button. The exam is then performed 4 fingers above the umbilicus and 4 fingers below the umbilicus. The width of separation is determined by the number of fingertips that can fit between the two sides of the rectus abdominus muscle when the head and neck are lifted. If the separation is equal to or greater than 2 fingertips then the test is positive and the patient qualifies for treatment.

Precautions with a Diastesis Recti:
Avoid straining or valsalva technique. Whether weight lifting or suffering from constipation, it is advised to avoid any straining that can further weaken the tissue and increase the diastesis. Be cautious with exercise as some movements can also increase the abdominal separation. Avoid sit ups and crunches and be cautious with planks, press ups and certain yoga postures. Instead, be sure to use your deep stabilizing layer of the abdominal muscle group with all movements to brace your core together. When getting out of a car or sitting up from bed, again be cautious to avoid straining. When getting out of bed, try rolling to the side to
minimize abdominal bulging during these motions.

Treatment options:
Exercise can help! There are techniques you can learn that are safe and healthy to heal your diastesis. Using a sheet or your own hands to brace the two sides of the abdominal wall together while contracting the rectus abdominus will help to close the gap. It can take several months while consistently doing the right exercises and avoiding the wrong motions to fully heal, so be patient. A physical therapist can work with you one on one to ensure you have good form and technique and give you a full exercise routine. In addition to exercises, sometimes a splint for the abdomen is recommended to assist with closure. In rare cases, cosmetic surgery is required where the surgeon will suture the two sides of the abdominal wall together. This can be done more invasively with abdominoplasty, or if a patient qualifies, then it can be performed laparoscopically. Please contact or call 4103817000 for an appointment today

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