Diastasis recti

Diastasis recti is a condition which leads to the progressive separation of the rectus abdominis muscles.

This is due to the weakening of the structure which holds them together, known as the linea alba. The linea alba consists mainly of connective tissue, composed of highly organised collagen fibres and able to support intense physical stress.
Certain situations such as pregnancy, rapid weight gain or excessive weight bearing or exercise cause a weakening and irreversible separation of the constituent fibres, resulting in a separation of the rectus abdominis muscles.

Diastasis recti: main signs and symptoms

The main signs and symptoms of diastasis recti are:

  • excessive abdominal bloating, especially after meals and in a standing position
  • lower back pain
  • poor posture with accentuation of lumbar lordosis
  • incomplete emptying of the bladder during urination, and associated urinary problems.

While this condition mostly affects women following pregnancy, a significant percentage of men and women develop the condition following excess weight bearing or exercise. Some patients are also anatomically and biologically predisposed to the condition, their rectus abdominis muscles separating “naturally” over the years due to a progressive weakening of the tissues. There are also cases of congenital diastasis recti, present since birth

Diastasis recti: characteristics

Outwardly, diastasis manifests as an increase in belly size disproportionate to the body’s true weight and proportions. There is often a visible deformity on the midline during certain types of physical effort. In many cases of diastasis recti, the navel becomes excessively protruding and prominent due to a concomitant umbilical hernia often associated with the condition.

Diastasis recti: treatment

While physical activity involving the abdominal wall may strengthen the muscles, it is unable to repair the damaged connective fibres, and surgery is the only definitive cure.
A wide variety of different approaches are available to treat diastasis recti, ranging from traditional “open” techniques to minimally-invasive robotic procedures.