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
- Intestinal adhesions may cause pain due to
obstruction during exercise or when stretching.
- Adhesions involving the
vagina or uterus may cause
pain during intercourse.
- Pericardial adhesions may cause
- 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 is 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.
Eugene Hardin, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Christopher R Westfall, DO
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