When you leave the hospital after an abdominal surgery or a bout of unexplained abdominal pain, there’s often a lot going on.
You’ll probably get a list of self care tips. And hopefully your doctor or nurse will talk with you about the do’s and don’ts of recovery. But your providers may not talk with you about the potential of abdominal adhesions, bowel obstructions, or other possible complications.
If you are headed into surgery soon or if you’re trying to recover from your surgery (no matter how long ago it was) just know there is help!
I have loved helping my clients prepare for surgery over the years. But, honestly, most people don’t come to me until they’ve been struggling for a while after their procedure.
Wherever you are at in your process, please know you’re not alone. And know that there is a lot you can do to help yourself recover fully.
For some ideas about prepping for abdominal surgery if you’re headed that way, see here.
Before or after surgery, it is good to know . . .
Abdominal adhesions are more than just scar tissue. They can also be sticky spots in your soft tissues (muscles, fascia, organs) that don’t have any scar tissue at all.
Non-surgical adhesions can be caused by the daily life causes of repetitive movement or repetitive stress (think of sitting at your desk all day without much movement). Dehydration (even mild, chronic dehydration) can lead to non-surgical adhesions for some people, especially when coupled with repetitive stress or movement.
In surgical cases, adhesions can form after a surgeon has temporarily moved an internal organ from its normal position during surgery, or they can occur when foreign materials make contact with internal tissues. The National Institutes for Health note that there are a few other causes of abdominal adhesions, like if internal organs and tissues dry out, or if blood or blood clots are not rinsed away as part of surgery.
There are also non-surgical issues that can potentially lead to abdominal adhesions, like abdominal infections, radiation treatments, or even a ruptured appendix.
Ways to think about treatment
If you’re not interested in having surgery as your first option to resolve adhesions, a non-invasive treatment like abdominal massage can provide good results. If done properly, abdominal massage and appropriate movement can help you avoid future pain associated with your adhesions.
- You’ll minimize trauma that requires healing
Perhaps the biggest benefit of self-massage as a treatment for abdominal adhesions is that you’re not treating the issue by inflicting surgical trauma. When done correctly, this type of treatment helps your body to heal – it doesn’t create a new problem that your body must heal again later.
- Massage helps to improve blood flow and range of motion
Working with muscles, even those that are under stress, can help to relieve the tension that causes problems. After a few sessions, you may find that you can move more easily.
- You’ll begin to understand your body’s reactions and triggers
Depending on the severity of the adhesion you may not even realize there’s an issue. Self-massage teaches you to pay attention, to listen to your body. You’ll be more aware of how your body reacts when specific triggers occur. For some people, depending on where the adhesion is, pain might be food-related. For others, the trigger might be a certain movement that brings pain or discomfort. When you know your triggers, you can learn to resolve or avoid them. Along the way, you can learn to greatly minimize the impact of those triggers.
- Massage can help you relax and give you more energy
After a properly-given massage or high-quality self-care, you may find that there’s less stress and tension in the affected area, as well as in the rest of your body. You may find that with continued practice, you’ll have fewer issues related to the abdominal adhesions you began treating: less pain, less stress. With less pain, you’ll likely have more energy and be able to do more of what the pain used to prevent you from doing.
The bottom line
When carefully and properly administered by a practitioner or by your own hands, massage can break down the bonds that attach the collagen fibers of the problematic adhesions. Sustained, gentle pressure, over time, can help to remove the adhesion and improve your overall well-being.
If you’re experiencing pain that you think is due to abdominal adhesions, my programs can help you, if you’re willing to work them. The Getting Started program helps you to identify where problem areas are, and teach you how the muscles of the abdomen work together.
You’ll also learn a few techniques that you can use to begin to relieve your discomfort. The Recover program builds on Getting Started, and helps you to determine exactly which massage techniques may be beneficial, depending on your symptoms.
I hope you find the information here useful!