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By Casey Cortney
Licensed Physical Therapist 

Physical Therapy Today: Physical therapy for post hysterectomy adhesions and pain


Abdominal adhesions are bands of scar tissue that form in the abdomen between organs. They can develop following any type of pelvic surgery, from a C-section or cyst removal to exploratory laparoscopic procedures. The bands of fibrous tissues typically act as a scab and dissolve when they’re no longer needed. If they don’t, physical therapy can be used to alleviate pain and improve quality of life.

The condition is common in women who have undergone a hysterectomy. The body’s immune system tries to repair the damage, but the process exacerbates the underlying problem. It’s a difficult and complicated condition to diagnose, as the adhesions and symptoms may appear within a few weeks or even years after the surgery. The potential for adhesion formation isn’t something that’s normally discussed.

They’re a common complication of hysterectomies and there’s no way to predict who will develop them. Adhesions can also occur as a result of C-sections and interfere with future fertility. The adhesions bond together tissues and organs that are meant to exist separately and they’re one of the most common causes of intestinal blockages and bowel obstructions, both of which can become life threatening. Physical therapy can help to break down pelvic and abdominal adhesions and aid in increased mobility of the connective tissue and of the muscles. This in turn may decrease pelvic pain, infertility and any bowel or bladder obstructions.

Avoid Surgery through

Physical Therapy

Adhesions can cause mild to moderate pain and often can’t be traced to a recent injury or surgical procedure, making them extremely difficult to diagnose. They can mimic other conditions that include appendicitis. Some women may even shrug off symptoms in the belief that it’s only a passing pain if discomfort is mild. The inability to render a quick diagnosis often causes anxiety, frustration and depression.

Manual therapy, including massage and myofascial release, is a highly overlooked treatment for the condition, but one that’s effective for pain relief, loosening adhesions with more intense techniques. It’s also used for rehabilitation if surgery is required. Manual therapy increases circulation while accelerating the healing process.

Exercise programs are also effective and preferred by some individuals. Exercises are specifically designed to build strength in the core and pelvic floor, which eases pain and can alleviate the need for surgery in some instances.

Casey Cortney, MPT is a licensed physical therapist and owner of Sidney Rehabilitation & Wellness Clinic. Casey can be reached at 308-254-4979 or by visiting the website at


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