Diastasis or Hernia? That is the question…
For as many of us that looked in the mirror months after pregnancy and asked “why do I still look pregnant?” there are similarly as many confused mothers that asked “what’s that funny bulge on my tummy?” And then, of course, there are the unlucky moms that got the dual diagnosis, “surprise! You have both hernia and diastasis!” That sucks; as I well know.
Let’s start with the basics; both hernia and diastasis can be potentially caused by pregnancy. I say potentially because either one of these conditions could have been present before pregnancy. In the likelihood that yours is a result of pregnancy, your next questions should be “What’s the difference between hernia and diastasis?”
A diastasis is the thinning and weakening of the connective tissue (linea alba) that connects the left and right sides of the rectus abdominis muscle (6-pack muscle).
A hernia is the protrusion of an organ or piece of tissue from its normally contained space. In the abdomen, a hernia usually involves a piece of bowel, or the omentum, which is a fatty apron that hangs down from the mid portion of the colon (large intestine), protruding through a weak area in the abdominal wall.
Chicken or egg?
Aha! Now that’s a good question. Unfortunately, moms diagnosed with diastasis may also have or develop a hernia. The abdominal wall is made up of layers of different muscles and tissues. Weak spots may develop in these layers to allow contents of the abdominal cavity to protrude. Wait what was Diastasis again?
Let’s break it down a little further. Diastasis Recti is a thinning of the Linea Alba. As a result of this thinning, holes and gaps can be created. Abdominal hernias happen are when internal material pokes through these openings.
What Are the Symptoms of a Hernia? (From Web MD)
For inguinal, femoral, umbilical, and incisional hernias, symptoms may include:
- An obvious swelling beneath the skin of the abdomen or the groin; it may disappear when you lie down and may be tender.
- A heavy feeling in the abdomen, that’s sometimes accompanied by constipation or blood in the stool.
- Discomfort in the abdomen or groin when lifting or bending over.
- Symptoms of a hiatal hernia may include heartburn and upper abdominal pain.
Are hernias dangerous, or do they just look funny?
Some can be dangerous. When the internal material slips through the holes or gaps in the Linea Alba, the contents can become impinged, cutting circulation, or interfering with function. Many hernias are not painful and do not interfere with function. In these cases your Dr. may say that it’s totally fine; just displeasing to you aesthetically. In other cases your Dr. may suggest surgery and you should seriously consider this option. Although there is sufficient data to support diastasis rehabilitation does have a positive success rate, larger hernias usually require surgery and if proper precautions are not taken they can lead to serious health conditions.
Will hernia surgery heal my diastasis? Yes/no. Annoying? Yes!!!
Think of your diastasis as a pair of stockings. When you get a hole in your stockings, it almost immediately creates a run (uggghh, a run in my panty hose) this run is sometimes just on the top or bottom, but usually it’s both. Now, let’s stretch those panty hose by sticking your finger through the hole and pulling them up, and then see what happens to the hole and the run? Aha! (Another aha!) Not only does the hole get bigger but the run gets longer. The hole (umbilical hernia) makes it very difficult to heal your diastasis because there’s always the issue of it running up and down. Also remember that diastasis is not just holes and gaps, but a thinning of the connective tissue. Healing requires building up the tissue’s thickness with the creation of scar tissue, binding the abdominals to close those gaps, and then strengthening the deeper abdominal muscles while indirectly conditioning the injured rectus abdominis. Sound complicated? Nah.
Can I have Diastasis surgery at the same time as hernia surgery? What about a tummy tuck? That’s a blog for another time…
So anyway, that’s why we have the Abdominal Connections 6 Step Program; every tool and technique available to you as a non-invasive alternative to surgery with remarkable results. If you do decide to have surgery, the Abdominal Connection Core Strengthening Program can help you recover. It’s a win win! I’m just sayin, it’s nice to have options.