Separation of the stomach muscles following pregnancy, also known as diastasis rectus abdominis, has been shown to be correlated to lower back and abdominal pain.

Parker MA, Millar AL, Dugan S.  Diastasis Rectus Abdominis and Lumbo-Pelvic Pain and Dysfunction – Are They Related?  J of Wom Health Phys Ther.  2008; 32(1): 15-22.

Diastasis recti abdominis (DRA) has been shown to be correlated with pregnancy, specifically multiparity.  In women five weeks to three months postpartum, it has been shown to still be present in 36% of women.  Exercise has been looked at in the prenatal population and found to significantly decrease the presence of DRA in the third trimester.  This particular study examine the hypothesis that a DRA left untreated can predispose women to lumbo-pelvic pain, and bladder or bowel dysfunction.  There were two groups and a total of 100 women:  a patient group and a control group that was not seeking medical care.  To be in the patient group, a primary complaint in the following areas was required:  pelvic pain, abdominal pain, back pain, SI joint dysfunction, coccydynia, muscle weakness, myofascial pain syndrome, urinary or fecal incontinence, or pelvic organ prolapse.  Within the patient group, those that had undergone a laparoscopy were analyzed separately. Each group was evaluated with the following scales:  the Pelvic Floor Distress Inventory, the Pelvic Floor Impact Questionnaire, Visual Analog Scale and the Modified Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Questionnaire.  DRA measurements were taken on all subjects. either present or not present.

Incidence of DRA was 74.4% for the patient group, 100% for those with history of laporoscopy, and 50.9% in the control group.  The results showed a statistical correlation between DRA and abdominal or pelvic region pain.  It is our hope and belief that by catching DRA sooner in the postpartum population, we will decrease a woman’s complaint of back and pelvic pain.  DRA is often not assessed by any other health practitioner and can be addressed one on one with our physical therapists as a part of this program.

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