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Adhesions, Pain and Dysfunction after Peritonitis

Generally caused by severe inflammation, or a post-surgical or post-traumatic event in the abdomen or pelvis, peritonitis is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that needs to be addressed immediately. When it occurs, the membrane covering the abdominal and pelvic organs becomes inflamed. Next, the inflammation or infection can spread throughout the interstitial spaces of the abdominopelvic cavity – the spaces between organs, muscles, glands and support structures. Frequent causes of peritonitis in our patients include burst appendix, ruptured cysts, infection or leakage of bowel contents into the abdomen following surgery.

adhesions-throughout-bodyThe body’s first response to peritonitis is to form adhesions – internal scars that surround traumatized tissues to start the body’s repair process. Responding to the peritonitis, doctors may initiate a surgery to repair the cause and will often directly administer antibiotics to the inflamed tissues, deep within the abdomen or pelvis. Unfortunately, medical studies show that surgery in these areas generally causes more adhesions to form. Thus, the patient is often faced with severe adhesion formation – first, as a response to the peritonitis, second, as a natural part of the process of healing from surgery.

Post-surgical and post-peritonitis adhesions tend to attach to digestive, reproductive, and endocrine organs throughout the abdomen and pelvis. When this happens, they can act like glue, binding those structures in straight-jacket like bonds, estimated at 2,000 pounds per square inch (140 kilos per square centimeter.) When adhesions wrap around nerves, they can cause pain. Adhesions at muscles decrease normal mobility. When they form at an organ, they can decrease the function of that organ, whether it is reproductive, digestive or endocrine.

Adhesions are largely composed of collagen, a substance that surrounds virtually every structural cell in the body. Thus, most adhesions do not appear on diagnostic tests such as MRI, CT scan or ultrasound. When the patients go to the doctor to learn what is wrong, their physician may tell them “I don’t see a problem,” or “there’s nothing there” – or worse “I think it’s all in your head.” Meanwhile, the patient is suffering from powerful internal bonds called adhesions.

Adhesions can be strong enough to cause significant pain. People who suffer from post-peritonitis adhesions may complain of “unexplained pain” in one or more parts of their body. Some patients even tell us “It feels like I have straitjackets inside me.”

Since their doctor cannot see the adhesions on diagnostic tests, the patient may be referred from specialist to specialist, looking for relief from their symptoms. In short, adhesion pain can often be a source of frustration and mild to debilitating pain.

Therapy to Decrease Adhesions and Pain After Peritonitis

pain from small bowel obstructionOver the last 25 years, our therapists have dedicated much of their professional careers to decreasing and eliminating adhesions, non-surgically. Our network of clinics has treated hundreds of patients who came to us with adhesions that formed after peritonitis. Most complained of significant, often unexplained pain. Patients typically report unexplained pain and tightness in the abdomen and pelvis. The pain can be constant or intermittent, and may increase with certain movements or activities such as bowel movements, sexual intercourse or diet changes.

Results for these patients are generally very good to excellent after therapy; many of the patients we treated for peritonitis adhesions tell us “You gave me back my life.” We believe therapy is generally successful for two reasons:

  • It pulls apart adhesions non-surgically, like pulling apart the run in a three-dimensional sweater or pulling out the strands of a nylon rope.
  • Unlike surgery, this therapy does not appear to create new adhesions, which is a major advantage.

In a 50+ year study of thousands of abdominal and pelvic surgeries in the Western world, surgery was found to create new adhesions in 55% to 100% of cases. Unfortunately, no matter how skilled the surgeon, the body needs to heal from the surgery. In doing so, it lays down adhesions as the first step in healing – exactly the same process as occurred when the patient first developed peritonitis.

Published Results

We have been able to monitor and publish results in respected peer-reviewed medical journals, including ‘before and after’ x-ray films showing the structural changes we achieve for patients with conditions caused by abdominal and pelvic adhesions.

Testing results with pelvic adhesions. Several studies showed that the therapy opened totally blocked fallopian tubes. Because these tiny structures generally block from adhesions, a review of dye tests conducted before and after therapy provides a good indication of success. In our largest such study, we opened fallopian tubes in 69% of patients — 180 women who had never had surgery on their fallopian tubes. When we included women who had undergone prior surgery to these tiny structures, we opened tubes in 61% of 235 patients.

Testing results with abdominal adhesions. One of the more serious, life-threatening conditions following peritonitis adhesions is small bowel obstruction. Published studies of our work, with before and after radiographic films, demonstrated that we cleared adhesive bowel obstructions – a life-threatening condition. Studies showed that the obstructions cleared, whether the bowel was kinked from the outside like a garden hose or constricted by an internal stricture – the hourglass shaped narrowing of the bowel. Note: While radiographs cannot show adhesions, they can show their effect. Thus, physicians were able to use radiopaque dye to determine these results for clearing blocked fallopian tubes and blocked intestines.



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