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General Medical Questions
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Question : I have scars in my abdomen from prior surgery. These adhesions cause recurrent attacks of abdominal pain. I am afraid to have more surgery. What else can I do?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Mary Pickett, M.D. is an Associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University where she is a primary care doctor for adults. She supervises and educates residents in the field of Internal Medicine, for outpatient and hospital care. She is a Lecturer for Harvard Medical School and a Senior Medical Editor for Harvard Health Publications.

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April 21, 2014
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After surgery, some people develop stiff scars around parts of the intestine. Also it can happen if there is inflamed tissue inside the abdomen, even without surgery. Why some people have these exaggerated healing responses is often not known.

Adhesions can prevent sections of the intestine from moving freely. So they can create symptoms. For instance, they can “snare” a segment of intestine so firmly that the bowel is blocked from passing digestive contents. This is called a bowel obstruction.

The best way to improve symptoms is surgery to remove the adhesions. But of course, having another surgery may cause you to form a few new adhesions. Which may create similar problems later.

Some people may be able to have fewer symptoms by undergoing specialized abdominal physical therapy. This is where a therapist uses massage to manipulate the position of organs in the abdomen and pelvis. Sometimes, it can make a difference in symptoms. But not every therapist is skilled in abdominal physical therapy. It is a specialty that requires focused training.

Ask your doctor if this type of therapy is available and whether it is covered by your health insurance.

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