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Chronic Abdominal Pain Can Indicate Adhesion Related Disorder

By Expert HERWriter
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adhesion related disorder can be responsible for abdominal pain MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

Does your abdomen generally hurt or have odd vague pains that are difficult to describe to your health care provider? Does it hurt after you eat, during a bowel movement or during sex? Have you been through imaging only to be told, “Nothing is wrong”? Consider adhesion related disorder (ARD).

ARD occurs when adhesions form in your abdominal cavity, often between organs and/or your muscles and tendons. An adhesion is typically scar tissue that forms due to trauma or surgery in the area that then prevents the organ or muscle to move or function properly.

For example, if scar tissue formed around the intestines, then when your intestines move as you were digesting food and drinks it pulls and tugs on the scar tissue causing pain or cramping. It may also slow your digestion.

Scar tissue that forms over your ovaries may cause increased ovarian pain and decreased fertility as the egg is unable to release properly.

Scar tissue that forms between organs or muscles may also cause pain, cramping or inflammation during certain movements such as core exercises, twisting motions, or sex.

Surgery is the number one reason for ARD as the trauma of surgery causes the body to make adhesions as part of the repair process. Unfortunately, there is no direction or thought process behind the creation of scar tissue and problems occur.

It is also very difficult to get rid of this scar tissue as surgery to remove the adhesions may end up creating more trauma to the area.

Typical surgeries include cesarean sections, gall bladder or appendix removal, hysterectomy, surgery to remove endometriosis, bladder surgery, abdominal surgery due to infection or trauma (such as a car accident), and tummy tucks or liposuction.

Adhesions may also form as a result of infection, chemotherapy, radiation, trauma to the area (besides surgery), and endometriosis.

Diagnosis is often made based on the symptoms and history of abdominal and/or pelvic surgeries as the adhesions may not always be seen on imaging. However the nature of the symptoms usually prompts an ultrasound or MRI for better visualization.

Additional work up may include a colonoscopy, laparoscopy, and testing for certain conditions such as celiac disease.

Treatment is difficult as there are no drugs or medications that can dissolve the scar tissue to date, nor is there a preventative medication that someone could take prior to surgery.

Besides more surgery to remove the adhesions, there are certain alternative methods that may be helpful such as abdominal massage, acupuncture, low level laser therapy, enzyme therapy to dissolve the fibrin, castor oil topically (not taken internally!. Some bodywork experts focus on fascial release.

If you have a history of abdominal or pelvic surgery and are now experiencing unexplained pain, inflammation or problems with the intestines or ovaries – talk to your health care provider about adhesion related disorder.


International Adhesions Society. Web. 21, July, 2013.
Retrieved from http://www.adhesions.org

Wiseman, DM. Disorders of adhesions or adhesion-related disorder: monolithic entities or part of something bigger--CAPPS? Web. 21 July, 2013.
Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18756413

Reviewed July 29, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I can't tell you how much it means to me to just give it a name. I have suffered from adhesions for 17 years and undergone about 10 operations including a hysterectomy. I have just turned 41. My last operation was 5 years ago as the adhesions had caused my bowel to hernia through into my tummy cavity. I was told that any further surgery would be too dangerous. I have just had a spinal cord stimulator fitted to help with the chronic pain and although it has helped I still have days, like today when in agony and can't go out with my family to watch my kids play rugby. I am so depressed just now and the overwhelming feeling of guilt is making everything worse. I am a bad mum, a useless wife, a rubbish daughter, and am just so miserable. I am off work sick and know I have to go back as we can't afford for me not to work, but my employer and colleagues have had enough as have been off sick more in last 5 years than have been at work and can't concentrate and make so many mistakes that am convinced I am worthless. Started therapy last week and just hoping that can help me deal with the emotional aspect of this horribly silent condition. However, like I said at the start of my message, just me being able to say I have Adhesion Related Disorder at least gives me hope that someone will take this seriously and might even Google it and read about what it's actually like and maybe begin to understand the immense paid adhesions can cause. Thank you for reading this and I hope that if nothing else, this gives you some comfort that you are not alone

April 26, 2015 - 4:07am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Ohh Dear, that sounds so bad, & I thought I was bad. I've gone 70, and feel a bit like that, my problem is adhesions too I'm sure, but I have those awful hemorrhoids too. They are internals and often make life difficult when they stick their ugly heads out. Like at the moment... I'm beside myself, and am trying to do the right things, like bathe in Salty water, and use Rectogesic ointment to soothe the mongrels, I sure hope you get some comfort to know others care, and sympathize with you. I'm having it tough right now too.

March 25, 2016 - 4:00am
EmpowHER Guest

Has anyone tryed the LOW LEVEL LASER THERAPY to help with there scar tissue.? My Dr. dont know what to do to help me. They say if they cant see it, cant fix it. Iam ready to try anything. I didnt know they called it ARD. Iam glad to find this site.

February 17, 2015 - 1:09pm
EmpowHER Guest

Adhesion related disorder is very real and very painful. Believe me I know 1st hand how painful.

January 24, 2015 - 4:09am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.