It can sometimes be difficult to know if your abdominal symptoms are being caused by abdominal adhesions or by some other problem in your body. It is important to remember that soft-tissue, like muscles, tendons, ligaments, or fascia can have a problem that is referring (sending) pain or sensation to another part of the body entirely. For example, it is very common for tight, stuck, or injured muscle or fascia in the legs to refer sensation into the abdomen.
It is possible to have belly pain as a result of, say, trigger points in the rib muscles or shoulder muscles, and vice versa. It is possible for scar tissue or a fibroid in another part of the body to be compressing the tissue in such a way that it is sending sensation or pain to the abdomen. The list of possible referral sources is long.
So then how can it be possible to attribute anything to adhesions? Couldn’t your abdominal pain or dysfunction be coming from something altogether unrelated? Yes, it could, but there are certain types of distress that are more reliable indicators of abdominal adhesions than just pain.
2 Questions to Answer: “How do I know if I have adhesions?”
1. Can you touch the pain? – If you can find and “recreate” or intensify your abdominal pain by working through the soft tissues of your belly (see either the Getting Started program or the full Recover Program for instruction) then the problem is probably mostly right there where you are touching, not somewhere else. This of course, can seem a little tricky, because some of these spots will begin to ease as you start to access them – which makes them appear to be wishy-washy. But they’re not wishy-washy, they’re soft tissue, this is what they do. If painful spots resolve to any degree as you are feeling for them (whether or not you are intending to “work on” them) then that is a pretty good indication that you are dealing with adhesions and other related soft-tissue issues.
2. Do overall symptoms reduce even if some localized pain or discomfort remains or moves somewhere else? – If you begin working on your belly with massage or manual therapy and within a few sessions you are generally feeling better in terms of your symptoms, but you start to have pain or discomfort in different places than you have before, then this is a very good sign that you are working on adhesions. As tension patterns and pain patterns start to break down, they also tend to shift. Meaning, when you release one corner of a tension/pain pattern, the pattern gets crumpled up somewhere else, or starts pulling harder on a spot that either feels completely new or just more intense than before. This can be disquieting. But it is usually just a part of the process. The important part is to keep track of the initial problems you are trying to address (write them down before you begin). If those problems are subsiding, then you are doing a good job releasing the adhesions and other issues. As your symptoms change, keep track – keep writing down your symptoms and tracking what is doing what. You will likely be amazed by what you find.
These are the two most obvious signs that tell you that you are working with adhesions. There are other pages on this site that talk more about the specific symptoms of adhesions, but it is good to have some new ways to check out what is going on in your body. I hope this helps!