Saturday, June 5, 2010

Scar Tissue and Adhesions and Pain, Oh My!

You've all heard the expression "know thine enemy"? Well, scar tissue and adhesions are on my personal most wanted list (er, most UNwanted list that is). Let's take a look at the basics so we can better understand how to defeat them.

What exactly is scar tissue?
From Wikipedia;
"Tissues can either regenerate or scar. Scars (also called cicatrices) are areas of fibrous tissue (fibrosis) that replace normal skin (or other tissue) after injury or disease. A scar results from the biologic process of wound repair in the skin and other tissues of the body. Thus, scarring is a natural part of the healing process."

What are adhesions and how do they form?
"Adhesions form as a natural response to trauma that your body has undergone. All of your abdominal organs are wrapped in a clear membrane, called the peritoneum. During cesarean section, the peritoneum is cut in order to expose the uterus. As a result, the peritoneum becomes inflamed. After surgery, this inflammation triggers the formation of scar tissue.
Typically, this scar tissue disappears after a little while, in a process called fibrinolysis. However, cesarean section surgery sometimes decreases the blood flow to the peritoneum, preventing the fibrinolysis process from taking place. As a result, the scar tissue forms into adhesions."

From my reading, I have learned that 93% of patients that undergo pelvic surgery develop adhesions.  It appears quite common for adhesions to tangle themselves up with internal organs and cause pain. I've experienced this first hand. It's not fun, I assure you that. Other complications that could result from adhesions are bowel obstructions and more rarely, infertility.

There are surgical methods to prevent (which would have been helpful to know BEFORE my c-section...yay for informed consent!...NOT.) and treat adhesions. I might talk about that one day, but for now I'm going to focus on ways to deal with the pain associated with adhesions and how to encourage them to break up on their own.

Pain relief options that I've found helpful in dealing with my adhesions are anti-inflamatory pain relivers (such as ibuprofen) and heating pads.
Now that I'm closing in on returning to fertility (I still have not gotten my first post partum period, but I sense that it's close), I'm finding that I'm practically glued to my heating pad. The cramps that I'm experiencing now, post c-section, are so much more severe than any I had before. Thanks adhesions!


  1. Hi! I found your blog through a link from Alpha Mom and I immediately clicked on your adhesions label. I'm 14 months postpartum. I had an emergency cesarean after 24 hours of labor. My recovery was awful. Breastfeeding was a nightmare. I exclusively pumped for 6 weeks and then stopped because my doctor told me that pumping was making my PPD worse. My son developed a milk protein allergy and reflux. It was really awful. Now I have severe adhesions that cause my stomach to pooch and they hurt like the dickens during menstruation and ovulation. We're now considering trying for another child. My doctor has told me that she can remove the adhesions during my next Cesarean. You mentioned preventing and treating adhesions in your post. Could you elaborate? I would appreciate any info that you might have. If you would rather correspond through email my address is lifeasmum (@) gmail (.) com

  2. @Christy; Massage is the primary tool for treating adhesions non-surgically (which is what I plan to do since there's no way in hell I'll go through another c/s unless I absolutely have to). I'll be posting about DIY Maya massage later today but you can also look for massage therapists in your area that work with scars. I was just speaking to one yesterday that I'll be working with that was quite knowledgeable about breaking up scar tissue. There are supplements that you can take to heal, but I'm not as clear on those yet.
    Remember, even if your OB removes your old scar tissue during your next c/s, that new surgery will likely still causes it's own adhesions.

  3. Great Post KEEP IT UP
    With regards
    Home Check Ovulation Kit
    You can find me by searching on Google HOME CHECK

  4. Abdominal Adhesions can also form after infections in the bowel such as diverticulitis. Additional surgery is the only Treatment for Abdominal Pain from adhesions but repeat surgery can lead to more adhesions.