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Diastasis Rectus Abdominis: Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:04 Abdominal Bump
  • 0:25 Diastasis Rectus Abdominus
  • 1:31 Symptoms
  • 1:51 Treatment
  • 2:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kirstyn Wade

Kirstyn is a registered nurse and has a master's degree in Nursing Education. She has taught college Nursing courses.

Diastasis rectus abdominis, or diastasis recti, is a common condition affecting the abdominal muscle. It generally occurs in women during and after pregnancy. In this lesson, you will learn about the symptoms and treatment of diastasis rectus abdominis.

Abdominal Bump

Kate gave birth to her fourth child three months ago. Since then, she has had a noticeable bulge in the center of her stomach, particularly when she tenses her abdominal muscles or coughs. She has also been feeling more lower back pain when trying to lift and carry her children. She is concerned about this bump on her stomach and decides to consult her physician to learn more.

Diastasis Rectus Abdominis

Her doctor explains to her that there are two large muscle bands that run vertically down the front of a person's abdomen, called the rectus abdominis. During pregnancy, the growing uterus can often cause these muscles to stretch and separate in the center. Kate finds out she has diastasis rectus abdominis, also called diastasis recti.

Illustration of the rectus abdominis muscles that extend vertically down the abdomen.
Abdominal Muscles

Typically, diastasis recti develop later during a woman's pregnancy, and the muscles can remain separated for up to one year after giving birth. Some women may always have a slight separation in their abdominal wall after pregnancy.

Diastasis recti does not only develop in pregnant women. It can also occur in premature infants and men who have experienced excessive weight gain causing the muscles to separate. However, this lesson focuses primarily on diastasis recti in pregnant and postpartum women.

Doctors generally agree that there is no real way to determine who might develop diastasis recti. However, there are certain conditions that might make individuals more likely to develop it. These include pregnant women over the age of 35, women who are pregnant with multiple babies, women who have given birth previously, or babies who have high birth weights.

Symptoms

Symptoms of diastasis recti include:

  • Bump or ridge extending down the middle of the abdomen
  • Extra skin or tissue noticed in the front of the abdominal wall
  • Lower back pain
  • Pelvic floor problems, such as urine leakage
  • Constipation
  • Hernia: when abdominal tissue or another organ pushes through the hole in the abdominal wall.

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