Causes of Abdominal Adhesions

abdominal adhesions

Abdominal and pelvic adhesion can result from a number of factors. The two most common causes are:

  1. Abdominal surgery of any kind, and
  2. Injury to the abdomen or pelvis.

In the case of non-surgical injury, it is important to remember that identifying the causes of abdominal adhesions can be somewhat tricky but can include (among other things) an awkward fall, a blow to the stomach, having to support a large amount of weight unexpectedly (such as catching someone as they are falling), or any number of life’s other experiences. I talk more about this aspect of adhesions in my article: Non-Surgical Causes of Abdominal Adhesions.

In either case, once an adhesion has been created in the body, it tends to build on itself if not addressed. In early stages, yoga, stretching, and self-massage can be enough to break up the original adhesion and return you to normal function – often before serious pain sets in. If left unaddressed, however, the adhesions will slow the blood flow to the area, thereby reducing the body’s ability to clean out old, dead cells and toxins and bring in fresh nutrient to the tissue. Once the clean, free-flowing blood supply is compromised, the adhesion commonly spreads to, or at the very least causes enough discomfort to start affecting, surrounding musculo-skeletal function and thereby puts any number of pain and restriction patterns in place.

As you may know, or have guessed by now, adhesion is not limited to the abdomen or pelvis. It occurs in all soft tissues of the body. When we feel “knots” in our shoulders or our legs feel “tight,” most of the time we are experiencing the effects of adhesion. Abdominal adhesion becomes particularly problematic and excruciatingly painful because of its tendency to engage our internal organs. But regardless of the location, all adhesion acts pretty much the same and can be easily treated by a trained hand. (And, of course, with knowledgeable self-care.)

Remember, even if you can’t identify the single (or multiple) causes of the injury or adhesion, the most effective and safe treatment is manual manipulation. Whether you call that massage, physical therapy, bodywork, or anything else, it all comes down to the fact that manual therapy has always been the best treatment for adhesion.

Help or Hinder?

◊ Dehydration can make adhesions worse at the original site, as well as cause them to spread.

◊ Slow, gentle stretching with self-massage can help reduce adhesions.

◊ It’s never too late to start releasing adhesion with massage.

◊ As with any injury, the longer adhesion lives in the body, the longer it takes to resolve it.


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