Diastasis or Hernia?

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.

10 Responses to “Diastasis or Hernia?”

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    Gloria Crabb

    Information on diastisas recti was very helpful.

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    Janet Malo

    I would like information on the abdominal connections program please.
    Thank you in advance!!

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    Could an abdominal hernia cause heartburn and funny fluttering feelings below left rib cage

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    Hello. I’m nearly 4 years postpartum. Which of the binders should I use? If measuring right, i think I have 10 or more finger gaps. My stomach is huge, I look 6 months pregnant

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    Fiona Manonn

    I had bilateral inguinal hernia surgery (open; mesh) two months ago. For the first 2 weeks post-surgery, I experienced burning/stabbing pain in my upper thighs. The doctor said that was normal and was a sign of healing. After one month the pain stopped and I thought the worst was over. But at around the 6 week mark the “healing pain” returned worse than before. Although not constant, I now get the pain when just sitting, and when I stand to walk the burning pain is intense. Scared it may be chronic.

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      Liza N Peglow

      Does this still happen to you or did it subside? I am 30 and I have an umbilical hernia and am considering surgery. Also. After you got the hernia repaired did the diastis rectus go away?

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    Developed a hernia from heart bypass surgery in 2000. Doesn’t look pretty but hasn’t caused any problems. In 2019, I had aorta bifemoral bypass surgery. I developed a bulging abdomen and the surgeon said it was a hernia, nothing to worry about. I saw another surgeon and was diagnosed with diastasis and a hernia in 2020. If it was effecting my lifestyle, he could fix it but I needed to lose 25-30 pounds; gained instead. A third surgeon diagnosed diastasis and multiple hernias; lose 10-15 pounds and gained yet more. Very difficult to breath and lower back pain now. Physical ability has been severely altered. Any correlation between it all? Oh, I used to wear a 36 but now a 40; gone from 194 to 215.

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    Heather Lee

    I just found out that I have an umbilical hernia, it was an incidental finding when they were doing a cat scan of something else. How can this be? I had a full tummy tuck after 3 kids, I had a 11cm diastasis that was brought together with permanent sutures-closures (metal I believe) from my plastic surgeon. So how can I now have an umbilical hernia, with no obvious signs like bulging anywhere? I don’t want just any surgeon to mess with my tummy tuck that cost upwards of $40,000 but I need this fixed. My plastic surgeon made me a new bellybutton and everything so could this be something caused by that surgeon several years ago or have happened in spite of his best efforts to fix my 11cm diastasis? My belly has always felt kinda weird after the surgery, I always had pain trying to do stomach exercises like regular or hanging crunches, discomfort around my umbilical area, I just figured it was caused by the strain against the permanent sutures-closures used to keep my stomach muscles together. Should I go back to a plastic surgeon so they can work around my previous expensive tummy tuck or a regular surgeon who fixes umbilical hernias everyday and will be careful not to mess with my permanent suture-closures from my previous tummy tuck?

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    Thank you to everyone who contributed to writing this article. It has a lot of valuable information. I really like to read articles on this site. Wait for the next article
    thank you


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