Adhesions, General and After Surgery (cont.)
Doctors associate signs and symptoms of adhesions with the problems an adhesion causes rather than from an adhesion directly. As a result, people experience many complaints based on where an adhesion forms and what it may disrupt. Typically, adhesions show no symptoms and go undiagnosed.
Most commonly, adhesions cause pain by pulling nerves, either within an organ tied down by an adhesion or within the adhesion itself.
- Adhesions above the liver may cause pain with deep breathing.
- Intestinal adhesions may cause pain due to obstruction due to blocking the passage of intestinal contents such as food or liquid or during exercise or when stretching.
- Adhesions involving the vagina or uterus may cause pain during intercourse.
- Pericardial adhesions may cause chest pain.
- It is important to note that not all pain is caused by adhesions and not all adhesions cause pain.
- Small bowel obstruction (intestinal blockage) due to adhesions may become a surgical emergency.
- These adhesions trigger waves of cramp-like pain in the stomach. This pain, which can last seconds to minutes, often worsens when the person eats, which increases activity of the intestines.
- Once the pain starts, the affected individual may vomit. This often relieves the pain.
- The stomach may become tender and progressively bloated.
- The person may hear high-pitched "tinkling" bowel sounds over the stomach, accompanied by increased gas and loose stools.
- Fever is usually minimal or occurs later in the process.
- Such intestinal blockage can correct itself. However, a person must see your doctor if the blockage progresses and conditions may develop:
- The bowel stretches further
- Pain becomes constant and severe
- Bowel sounds disappear
- Gas (flatulence) and bowel movements stop
- The belly expands and swells
- Fever may increase
- Further progression can tear the intestinal wall (perforation) and contaminate the abdominal cavity with bowel contents.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/1/2016
Eugene Hardin, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Christopher R Westfall, DO
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