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Adhesions: Treatment and Prevention

Adhesions: Glued-Together Tissues

An adhesion is a band of scar tissue that binds 2 parts of your tissue together. They should remain separate. Adhesions may appear as thin sheets of tissue similar to plastic wrap or as thick fibrous bands.

The tissue develops when the body’s repair mechanisms respond to any tissue disturbance, such as surgery, infection, trauma, or radiation. Although adhesions can occur anywhere, the most common locations are within the stomach, the pelvis, and the heart.

Structures that are separate are meant to glide, when there is tissue injury, the sliding mechanisms that enable our tissues to glide upon each other are compromised.  Manual therapy and myofascial release can restore tissue glide and allow for normal function to return.

Abdominal adhesions:

Abdominal adhesions are a common complication of surgery, occurring in up to 93% of people who undergo abdominal or pelvic surgery. Abdominal adhesions also occur in 10.4% of people who have never had surgery.

  • Most adhesions are painless and do not cause complications. However, adhesions cause 60%-70% of small bowel obstructions in adults and to contribute to the development of chronic pelvic pain.
  • Adhesions typically begin to form within the first few days after surgery, but they may not produce symptoms for months or even years. As scar tissue begins to restrict motion of the small intestines, passing food through the digestive system becomes progressively more difficult. The bowel may become blocked.
  • In extreme cases, adhesions may form fibrous bands around a segment of an intestine. This constricts blood flow and leads to tissue death.
Pelvic adhesions:

Pelvic adhesions may involve any organ within the pelvis, such as the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, or bladder, and usually occur after surgery. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) results from an infection (usually a sexually transmitted disease) that frequently leads to adhesions within the fallopian tubes. A woman’s eggs pass through her fallopian tubes into her uterus for reproduction. Fallopian adhesions can lead to infertility and increased incidence of ectopic pregnancy in which a fetus develops outside the uterus.

The link below is to a paper that provides the first evidence that manual therapy can prevent and treat abdominal adhesions.  The work was completed by Susan Chapelle, RMT and Geoffrey Bove, DC, PhD and published in “Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies”.

Manual therapy lyses and prevents visceral adhesions