ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have diastasis recti?

Question

Why do I have diastasis recti?

I'm a middle aged man who seems to have just developed diastasis recti. I have only read about it happening to babies and pregnant women, though. Could this indicate that I have some deeper problem?

Answer

Diastasis recti is a common problem, especially in women, but it can also occur in men. Essentially what happens is that there is gradual separation of two bands of vertically oriented muscles, the rectus abdominis muscles, which are located in the front of the abdomen on either side of the belly button. This does not usually cause any pain or discomfort but, with straining, an elongated bulge can be seen running from below the breastbone down the abdomen. As you say, the most common for of diastasis recti is the kind that occurs in pregnant women from the pressure of the uterus on the abdominal wall. In men, the most common causes for diastasis recti are obesity (causing similar pressure on the muscles), or a history of vigorous straining exercises such as sit ups or weightlifting. Some cases of diastasis recti in men can be treated just with physical therapy. You should talk to your primary care doctor, who may be able to refer you to a physical therapist who can suggest some strengthening exercises for the abdominal muscles. If exercises do not work, then you would need to talk to a plastic surgeon about a possible abdominoplasty, or "tummy tuck", procedure.

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