C-Section adhesions are filmy, sticky, tentacle-like bands of scar tissue that form within your abdomen after surgery.
They occur as the body’s way of replacing damaged, cut tissues at the incision site
These C-Section adhesions are one of the most worrisome side effects for women having a Cesarean Section because they can be painful and cause long term health complications.
- What are some of the complications C-Section adhesions can cause?
- Is there anything you can do to prevent them?
Let’s take a look….
How Do C-Section Adhesions Become a problem?
If C-Section adhesions can attach themselves to your organs they can cause intense chronic pain, bowel obstruction or even infertility. Adhesions can even grow to a point where they have their own blood vessels and nerve endings.
Depending on how and where the adhesions attach themselves they can cause pain in various locations making them hard to diagnose. In fact doctors often treat your pain as it relates to his expertise. In other words they treat a pain in your mid-section as though there was a problem with your intestines and send you to a GI doctor. When the pain is asymptomatic or in multiple areas, they get stumped, this can lead to exploratory surgery where they don’t even know what they are looking for.
This can be a huge frustration for women.
For most women adhesions don’t grow large enough to cause complications, however for many they can cause some serious pain by adhering (hence the name adhesion) to other organs like the ovaries, uterus, Fallopian tubes, intestines or bladder. Once this happens the adhesions can pull or block organs. If they adhere to the intestines they can even cause bowel obstruction.
Potential Complications Can include:
- Bowl Obstruction. Abdominal Adhesions are the most common cause of bowel obstruction.
- Chronic abdominal pain. Adhesions can adhere to abdominal organs or tissues causing a pulling, painful sensation.
- Increased risk of bladder injury during subsequent C-Sections.
- Infertility. C-Section adhesions can interfere with future fertility, about a 20% risk.
For women who experience extensive pain or have fertility issues from c-section adhesions and scar tissue complications, additional surgery to remove the adhesions can help. Unfortunately more surgery creates more adhesions
The good news is that adhesion removal can be done laparoscopically which is a much less invasive surgery and has a good success rate for relieving pain and improving fertility.
What To Do For C-Section Adhesion Pain and Discomfort
Because adhesions are hard to detect with the usual CT Scan, MRI, or X-ray, medical personnel cannot get a good diagnosis and usually have to begin a series of healing by process of elimination, which can take a very long time.
- Post surgery massage therapy. Massage has been advocated and claimed to help loosen the grip of adhesions. For example, post C-Section self-massage therapy is a good preventive measure in help minimizing the effect of adhesions.
- Yoga Exercises. Yoga is ideal for just about anything connected to healing and achieving that overall feeling of peace, but it can also help relieve C-Section adhesions.
Yoga poses and stretches, like the forward bend, the cat/cow stretch, the cobra pose and side twists will strengthen and tone muscles and can keep your incision flexible while also keeping it from getting tight and uncomfortable.
- Stretching for C-Section Adhesion Pain Relief. Daily stretching is another way to soften adhesion fibers. Pelvic tilts are an excellent, gentle but effective exercises that is excellent for stretching the areas of the adhesions that need the most attention.
Tip: Never stretch too rigorously. Take care to stretch gently and move slowly. If something hurts or doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
How to Prevent or Minimize C-Section Adhesions
If you know you will be having a C-Section you can take a pro-active approach for minimizing the formation of adhesions. Medical science has a long way to go in the complete prevention of C-Section adhesions but there are ways to help minimize their formation and painful impact.
- Inquire about using adhesion blockers with your doctor. Products like Seprafilm, which is an adhesion barrier, can be inserted at the time of surgery to help guard against the formation of adhesions. Not all doctors use this material but it can’t hurt to discuss this with your doctor.
- Closing up the peritoneum. This is a surgical technique that helps minimize tissue injury and contamination of the wound, but it’s also been found to reduce adhesions. Another procedure you should inquire about with your doctor.
On closing the peritoneum, a study in 2005 by Stanford University has found that women who have had the peritoneum closed as part of their first c-section delivery are as much as five times less likely to develop adhesions than those who had theirs left open as is the common practice today.
This is possibly why I have not had any issues myself with adhesions as my doctor closed the peritoneum. I actually think this is one of the most significant things your doctor can do.
- The type of incision. A report by Mathai M, Hofmeyr GJ of The Cochrane Collaborative states that using a Joel-Cohen incision, a specific type of incision used for C-Sections can result in “… less fever, pain and analgesic requirements; less blood loss; shorter duration of surgery and hospital stay”.
This is another factor to discuss with your doctor as part of your C-Section preparation.
- Self massage therapy and professional massage therapy help minimize the pain of adhesions. Massage works by breaking up the bonds of the adhesions, helping the body return to normal, pain-free function.
Here’s more information on preventing C-Section adhesions from becoming a problem
To sum up…
If you suspect C-Section adhesions and scar tissue are causing your pain or discomfort, check with your doctor. It’s not always easy to detect adhesions but based on your pain, symptoms and medical history your doctor may be able to refer you to a specialist or order diagnostic treatment that may help with pain relief.
Blessings and I hope that helps
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