Northwest Face & Body

How To Know If You Have Diastasis Recti

Dr. Ludwig Allegra

July 4, 2024
How To Know If You Have Diastasis Recti

Diastasis recti is a condition where the abdominal muscles—which usually sit tightly next to one another and are held together by connective tissue—become separated. This often weakens the abdominal wall and severs the connective tissue. Sometimes, diastasis recti may resolve with time, exercise, and physical therapy. However, this is only true in a limited number of cases.

Patients can often accurately suspect whether or not they have diastasis recti, but it does require confirmation from a medical provider. There are various ways to evaluate yourself for diastasis recti. Here’s how to know if you have diastasis recti and how to proceed with determining the right treatment.

Diastasis Recti Causes

Firstly, diastasis recti usually has an identifiable cause. While it can occasionally occur idiopathically, this is generally only in newborns or babies. For adults, the most common causes include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Injury during exercise or heavy lifting
  • Giving birth vaginally
  • Having multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Being very petite
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Over age 35

Two-thirds of pregnant women have diastasis recti. The quick expansion of the abdomen to accommodate the baby can place pressure on the muscles and cause them to become separated. As mentioned, this may resolve itself, especially if a woman is reasonably healthy and it is her first pregnancy. However, with multiple pregnancies and deliveries, the likelihood of this happening becomes reduced.

Diastasis Recti Symptoms

Commonly, diastasis recti does not come with symptoms, but it can contribute to common post-partum concerns if it becomes severe or repeated. Most patients will have no or few major symptoms. The effects of abdominal muscle separation are often attributed to other conditions or circumstances. Possible symptoms associated with diastasis recti include:

  • Umbilical hernia
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Bulge or pooch above or below the belly button
  • Pain with sex
  • Poor posture
  • Back pain
  • Weak abdominal muscles
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty with lifting or certain exercises
  • Doming or coning of the abdomen when contracting abdominal muscles

At-Home Diastasis Recti Test

One way you can help determine whether you may have diastasis recti can be performed at home. First, lay on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat against the floor. Gently lift your shoulders while using one hand to support your head. This may look and feel similar to doing a sit-up, but you should not contract all the way upward like when performing sit-ups.

Next, with your palm down and fingers facing toward your toes, feel the area above your belly button. Using your fingers, feel for a gap between your abdominal muscles. If the gap is larger than two fingers wide, you may have diastasis recti.

Confirming Diastasis Recti

If you suspect you have diastasis recti, consult with a medical provider such as those at Northwest Face & Body who can confirm the condition. If they do, some may prescribe conservative treatments first. However, if you have likely had diastasis recti for a long time or it is severe, surgical correction may be the best treatment option.

To learn more about how to know if you have diastasis recti and schedule a consultation, call us at 425-576-1700. Patients can also reach out online via chat, contact form, and Price Simulator.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Ludwig Allegra

Dr. Ludwig Allegra has provided Bellevue, Kirkland, and the surrounding areas with premier plastic surgery procedures for over two decades.