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Diastasis Rectus Abdominis and Lumbo-Pelvic Pain and Dysfunction-Are They Related?

Parker, Meredy A. PT, DPT; Millar, Lynn A. PT, PhD, FACSM; Dugan, Sheila A. MD

Journal of Women's Health Physical Therapy: July 2009 - Volume 33 - Issue 2 - p 15–22

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the clinical assumption that the presence of diastasis recti abdominis (DRA) causes lumbo-pelvic pain (LPP) or dysfunction.

Study Design: This study was a prospective exploratory analysis of DRA and LPP or dysfunction.

Background: Only one other study was identified that examined the association between pain and dysfunction and DRA. The authors found that more than 60% of those with DRA had some type of pelvic pain.

Methods and Measures: Subjects (n=39; PG) included women seeking medical care for lumbar or pelvic area diagnoses (>18 years old) who had delivered at least one child. A control group (n=53; CON) of women were included, as well as a third group (n=8; LAP) with a history of a laparoscopy. Subjects completed the Pelvic Floor Distress Inventory, Pelvic Floor Impact Questionnaire, and the Modified Oswestry Low Back Pain Disability Questionnaire, as well as 2 Visual Analog Scales (VAS) for pain. A dial caliper was used to measure the distance between the rectus bellies. Differences between groups were analyzed using ANOVAs. Pearson product moment correlations were used to examine relationships.

Results: The incidence for the DRA was 74.4% for the PG, 50.9% in the CON, and 100% in the LAP groups. There was a significant difference between groups for all pain and dysfunction scales. There was also a significant difference between those with and without DRA for the VAS scores for abdominal and pelvic area pain. Otherwise, there was not a significant difference between those with and without DRA for any other LPP or function scales. Conclusions: Women with a DRA tend to have a higher degree of abdominal or pelvic region pain.

1Lakeview Physical Therapy, PC, Chicago, IL

2Andrews University, Department of Physical Therapy, Berrien Springs, MI

3University Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

Copyright © 2009 by the Section on Women's Health, American Physical Therapy Association.
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