5 Things About Adhesions

WeGo Health HAWMC 2013

The prompt for Day 2 of the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge is “5 Things About My Condition.” I just spend the last month talking about my journey with endometriosis so I would like to share some information about adhesion related disorders (ARD) which is a complex of symptoms related to adhesions. Over the last nine years, I have had six surgeries total. The first five were directly related to endometriosis and the last was due to a small bowel obstruction that was a direct result of adhesions. It was by far the most invasive and the most difficult surgery to recover from. I also have a 12 inch scar (that I affectionately call Frank) to remind me of last summer.

Unfortunately, I still have a lot of problems with chronic abdominal and pelvic pain which my doctors believe is a result of the combination of endometriosis and adhesions and because of my surgical history we are currently at a stand still with how to proceed.

Since ARD is often hard to diagnose and not often discussed (and is a new part of my life), I wanted to share 5 things you need to know about adhesion related disorders (source):

  1. Adhesions are abnormal attachments between the organs in the abdomen and are usually composed of scar tissue. Adhesions can present in various ways from loose, filmy, and flexible to dense, leathery, and hard. Common causes of adhesions are previous surgeries as well as endometriosis and other diseases.
  2. Adhesions can cause problems as the body is designed to move freely, including internal organs. When adhesions form between the organs, movement is lost and normal organ functions (such as digestion in the intestines) and normal body movement (such as bending or twisting) can cause pulling and tugging which can cause pain. More severe symptoms can include twisting, punching, and obstructions.
  3. In addition to pain, symptoms of ARD include constipation (sometimes alternating between constipation and diarrhea), changes in menstrual cycle, infertility, and pain with intercourse.  Dr. Clark Gerhart states, “Symptoms of ARD will often be attributed to other abnormalities. Patient will often carry multiple diagnoses including chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, along with a whole host of other possible syndromes. While multiple disorders can certainly exist in one patient, the confusion over which abnormality is truly causing the symptoms adds to the frustration of ARD. This, unfortunately, adds to the discomfort experienced by those who suffer with adhesions”.
  4. Diagnosis of ARD includes examinations, x-rays, MRIs, and a careful review of medical history. Diagnostic laparascopy is another means to identify (and treat) adhesions.
  5. However, because adhesions are often the result of previous abdominal surgeries, performing surgery (often referred to as adhesiolysis) to remove adhesions is often ineffective as adhesions will simply reform. Laparoscopic surgery should be performed by a skilled ARD surgical team to minimize chances of recurrence.

Resources for ARD:

Dr Clark Gerhart, MD

International Adhesion Society

Adhesion Pain

I hope you found this information helpful!

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I love hearing from you!

  1. Jamee, this is so interesting! They found adhesions within my colon during a colonoscopy I had this last year and were wondering where they had come from…My GI specialist was actually the one who commented he thought they might have formed as a result of my endometriosis. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as ARD until reading your blog. Thank you 🙂 (I’ve found my bowels are actually near “normal” when I follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, researched for Celiac and other intestinal-related disorders, and I don’t have the constant diarrhea/constipation/pain problems 😉
    –Jojo

    • I’m glad to could provide some information for you on ARD! I didn’t know much about it at all until recently when I started trying to do more research on my own about the continuing pelvic and abdominal pain! I will definitely have to check out the Specific Carbohydrate Diet you mentioned!

  2. Jamee,
    I was in a similar situation as you are now and just went to Clear Passages in Gainesville, Florida and am almost completely pain free.

    I can honestly say it completely changed my life. I feel like I’m living in someone else’s functioning body and can’t believe it’s mine 🙂

    At 24, I’ve spent the past 14 years in pain and feel like I have my life back. I have exhausted all other options here and can honestly say this is worth every penny. Since I’ve gotten back I’m scouring the web trying to get the word out to others who might benefit.

    For your reference I have:
    Endometriosis, Celiac Disease and have had two abdominal surgeries (appendicitis 2000, exploratory surgery which removed adhesions (and created more new ones!) in 2011). I was told I would be “cured” after 2011 surgery only to be in more pain and be diagnosed with Frozen Pelvis by Clear Passages.

    I’m happy to answer any questions you or your readers might have on Clear Passages: http://www.clearpassage.com/

    Feel free to contact me on my personal email: Anna.Martignetti@gmail.com

    All the best,
    Anna