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Living With Adhesions - Support Group

(36 Posts)
JohFlow Sun 14-Jul-13 17:45:35

Anyone out there living with internal adhesions post - surgery?

I have had extensive adhesions for three years following surgery and later 'keyhole' adhesion seperation. Adhesions seem to be almost a 'hidden' disease despite being so common. There are few avenues to follow for long-term and effective pain relief/remedy. We may look 'normal' on the outside; yet experience extra challenges on a daily basis.

Please share your stories or views on the subject. Hopefully we can support each other.

jhcst Thu 13-Oct-16 15:02:17

I just wondered how you are all doing now? This is a relatively new problem to me - just the last few months. I had my dd last June via planned C-Section. All seemed to go relatively smoothly and, while the revocery wasn't fun, there were no major setbacks. Scar seemed to heal and I managed to get myself active fairly quickly.
Since then, I had the odd occasion of digestive trouble, but just assumed it was a bug or virus or similar - first time probably September or so.
I thought nothing of this until... April this year when I had the most severee abdominal cramps of my life, resulting in vomiting (wasn't sure if this was the pain or the cause). It was so intense I was scared and, on advice from 111, we went to A&E. They weren't all that helpful, but whilst waiting to be seen I vomited and went to the toilet more and it started to become more manageable. Again, I assumed it was unrelated until... it happened again a few weeks later. And then again. And since that time, I have had a LOT of abdominal discomfort, pain, cramp, bouts of diarrhea, constipation, vomiting. I am now confident that that first awful attack was a (partial) bowel obstruction, of which I have had several more. When it happens, they are completely disarming.

I have seen my GP who referred me (after a few visits) for an urgent colorectal surgery appt (May). He recommended a CT scan to rule out other issues, but suspected adhesions. I have nudged the hospital a few times for that follow-up appt and have now had it through - February 2017 (8 months does seem a long time to wait for test results and follow-up!). I know that if the scan had shown anything awful, that I would be seen more quickly, but given the working diagnosis (adhesions) was something that wouldn't show up on the CT scan, this seems a long wait.

Anyway, various concerns: are things going to get worse over time? If the only 'cure' is surgery, is it safe to risk this, or am I just increasing the chance of more adhesions? What does this mean for my fertility? Even if I can get pregnant, would the adhesions impact on the safety of that pregnancy? If I had to have another C section, what would this mean for the adhesions? The surgeon I saw told me to hold off trying until test restuls (but I hadn't imagined then that that would mean the best part of a yaer). If adhesions tend to deteriorate, should I crack on now rather than wait for them to get worse?

To answer the question as how to manage them, I fear my methods aren't great for long-term health, but what seems to work to minimise my flares is: eat little and often, not too much fibre, drink LOADS of water, and stop eating when symptoms seem to set in to avoid it reaching full-on obstruction.

Thanks to all, and hope to hear updates - positive or negative...

LovelyBath Thu 14-Aug-14 20:56:05

Hi Peonies, Serenity, sorry to hear you have adhesions too. Horrible isn't it? I've had several obstructions Peony, it does sound similar how you describe it. I've been told if get bad pains to 'rest' the bowel for a few hours, and to take care with fibre that's about it really oh, and if get very bad pain especially with vomiting to go into hospital as you may get dehydrated and they would want to monitor you to make sure it settles down. If not, you may need an operation to free the trapped bowel. The real problem is that if they go in and cut them, they very often reform and sometimes even more form with each surgery so it is a tricky problem.

I'm at the stage where they don't want to operate further as it would be tricky due to the amount of adhesions, so am learning to deal with this problems being a chronic one, which is not easy. Surgery only if life threatening obstruction :-( Am keeping in touch with a lovely colorectal surgeon in a nearby hospital who has given me an open referral in case of needing admission and getting pain relief (amitryptilline) from GP and low fibre diet is helping. They say I now have something called a 'conglomerate' which means organs all stuck together which is causing the cramps.

PeoniesforMissAnnersley Tue 12-Aug-14 14:40:25

Hello all,

I've been having recurrent episodes of bad abdo pain with back pain (5 episodes since April, each one lasting between 2-4 days). I had an emergency appendectomy in January and I am convinced the pain is caused by something to do with surgery - my GP thinks adhesion(s) around my bowel causing temporary obstructions which then clear.

I have an appointment with a colo-rectal consultant tomorrow and am asking for colonoscopy to rule out internal infections/issue with surgery site and also laparascopy to see if adhesions are the problem. Anything else I should ask for?

The pain is very bad - I usually can't eat for 2ish days, sometimes vomit and find pain meds don't take the edge off it. The pain is also noticeably worse if I do eat when I am ill. I'd decsribe it as a strong cramping pain near the appendix site, with pains elsewhere in the bowel, extreme bloating and back pain on the same side as the appendix which is so severe I can't lie flat.

HowsTheSerenity Wed 11-Jun-14 08:27:33

Oh thank jebus! Im not the only one. I have horrible adhesions and no one else I know does.
I get the most horrible stabbing pain in my right side just under my ribs which is only relieved by pushing very hard. Buscopan and nurofen are useless.

Artistic Wed 11-Jun-14 08:23:49

LovelyBath - that's fantastic advice. I will speak to my consultant in advance. Am also tempted to go private for the delivery for this reason alone.

LovelyBath Tue 10-Jun-14 22:30:29

Hey MistressMouse I've just found a good support group for adhesions and there are quite a few like yourself, it is here come and join us if you like xx ps horrible thing isn't it.

MistressMouse Tue 10-Jun-14 20:58:05

I'm going to jump in. I've frozen pelvis, with my bowel, ovary and Fallopian tube stuck together. I had an ectopic pregnancy in 2003 which didn't help with adhesions but my consultant said at that time my insides were an established adhesion mess.
I had an emergency c section in 2005 with a ruptured bowel which has made things worse.
I am in constant pain.

LovelyBath Tue 03-Jun-14 21:06:47

I just remembered that when I spoke to the surgeons about a possible pregnancy after the adhesions surgery they said that if I needed a c section they would recommend getting one planned rather than an emergency due to the adhesions if possible. (eg breech) so it might be worth mentioning the adhesions or possibility of them to your doctors. I think it was mainly as in an emergency situation it may take a while to deal with the adhesions but hopefully none of this will affect you x

Artistic Sun 01-Jun-14 13:06:27

Thank you LovelyBath & wish you a trouble free stomach for the future.

LovelyBath Fri 30-May-14 12:03:14

Hi Artistic, it's good to hear that your adhesions settled down, even after major bowel surgery. I've also had major bowel surgery and after several episodes of problems they have thankfully got a bit better.

I am not sure about adhesions after c section however maybe someone else will know. I do think that a second birth can often be easier that the first though and as you had a vaginal birth the first time there is a good chance it will be OK (unless there is something unpredictable like a breech baby of course)

Take care and good luck for the pregnancy

Artistic Wed 28-May-14 15:37:29

I've had adhesions in childhood. Am not sure if adhesions led to surgery for me or the other way round. I've had 3 major bowel surgeries up to the age of 15, but nothing after that. When I had DC1 I was very keen to not have a c-section as I didn't want to 'wake up' the sleeping demons. luckily i didn't need it. Now pregnant with DC2 & praying that I get away with a vaginal birth this time too.

My surgeon had advised me that more surgeries lead to more adhesions, and if the person is not in pain then a surgeon (who may be operating in an area) should let the adhesions 'be' rather than try to remove them.

Has anyone had a recurrence of adhesions only because of c-section, with no problems before that?

LovelyBath Wed 28-May-14 14:57:14

Hi, I just wondered how everyone was getting on with their adhesions? I had an open surgery to remove them and a section of boerl over a year ago. I'm slowly starting to get pains again and hoping it doesn't develop into anything further.

JohFlow Wed 17-Jul-13 22:20:15


yamsareyammy Wed 17-Jul-13 22:12:37

In my case, I decided I had nothing to lose.
I did to the extent that all surgery carries a little risk. But apart from that, I figured that even just opening me up,[tmi], they might find something, even if not the adhesions.
And quite frankly, at that stage, me especially was running our of hope.

Yes, I know that I am always at risk of adhesions.
It was described to me as flotsam and jetsom floating around inside me that finds a scar to stick to inside, and then the mass inside just gets larger as more material adds itself on.

Am I frightened of more. No. But I am aware, like you, that it can strike again.
One of the first things I moght do, is try to track down the surgeon I had many years ago. Though it would be likely that that person has retired by now. But they may have trained someone else up.

JohFlow Wed 17-Jul-13 21:37:04

I wondered if pregnancy could have that affect on adhesions too Cleverly. Interesting that your knee may also have been affected simultaneously - but also makes sense if weight-bearing increases (as would be naturally expected in a healthy pregnancy).

I have bowel adhesions too.

Were your scars infected before they healed? Sometimes that leads to lumpy/keloid scarring on the outside ; but it could also affect healing internally. There is somewhat of a medical link between infection and over-proliferation of adhesions internally.

CleverlyConcealed Wed 17-Jul-13 20:26:52

I feel ( and yes I get what you say about instinct) that my adhesions were actually helped by my pregnancies. You know that thing about having excess stretch in your ligaments etc when pregnant? I really feel that it helped my adhesions and they settled into a less troublesome bond. I'd had some fairly major knee problems in my teens too due to ligament damage and scarring which almost completely resolved, spontaneously during pregnancy and I'm sure it's because my body found a new 'give'. Does that make sense?

Also I was very lucky that despite having long-standing bowel adhesions that they didn't seem to affect my fertility. My stomach scars are fairly shocking though, lumpy and overgrown in places and I expect that's reflected on the inside. It makes sense that adhesions relating to gynae procedures would affect fertility more than bowel even though they are close neighbours so to speak.

JohFlow Wed 17-Jul-13 19:51:11

Welcome Cleverly,

Thank you for your comments

Sounds like fasting works preventively for a few in the group with bowel complications. I find that hot, sweaty, bloated, nauseous feeling naturally makes you want to give food a break anyway.

Well done to you for continuing with you family despite the interventions that you have already had. It's lovely to hear that you had three healthy kids. Doctors are not sure of the status of my fertility and that leads me to question whether any want for further children outweighs the potential risks. It feels a very personal/womanly question to resolve. Indeed, I think that there is a massive area around the affect of adhesions on fertility and how women feel about themselves if their equipment is either partially or totally non-functional. Would welcome comments from anyone who is willing to share..

This idea of not being able to prevent adhesions (whilst probably true) does not sit comfortably with me. I sometimes feel that I am subjected to pain because I can do nothing to prevent it. Like Orange I feel sometimes that adhesions can be a like a ticking time bomb. There's something subtly intimidating about something invisible lurking. I am ever hopeful that something will be found that will help others in our situation. Thousands of people a year develop troublesome adhesions - surely there is enough demand to warrant research and new treatments(?)

Yams - pain is usually a bodily warning that needs looking into. 50/50 is an odd ratio to try to make a decision on- but in your position; I think I would like to know too. Many of us are blessed with intuition. Sometimes we 'just know' when things aren't right. Even in the absence of medical proof.

What Orange say about support when pain varies is very interesting. Pain itself is sometimes inconsistent. It shifts levels and migrates. Its also difficult to actually see (unless you are doubled over). Its difficult to measure with scientific accuracy. I find my relationship/tolerance to it seems to change regularly too. Sometimes I thank the pain for stopping me moving in a way that will hurt. Sometimes I swear at it -for the hag it is! I too have received the 'are you sure?' eyes when describing the character of pain. I'm not sure what training doctors/nurses generally get in dealing with pain. Hopefully; someone can share light on that question?

CleverlyConcealed Wed 17-Jul-13 17:32:57

Sorry that you are struggling with adhesion pain JohFlow (and everyone else)

I had adhesions following bowel surgery as a baby; I was plagued throughout my teenage years and had several hospital admissions for partial bowel obstructions. These usually resolved after a period of no food and ng tube/sip/suck treatment.

In my twenties they led to a full bowel obstruction which needed open surgery to resolve. I was pretty sick and had a 10 day hospital stay. Since then (touch wood) I've been fine, just the odd bout of pain but no admissions - had 3 successful pregnancies too with no problems.

My surgeon said that I am always at risk of them recurring as if your are susceptible to adhesions then there's nothing that can really be done to prevent them. I get a bit panicky over any stomach pain and tend to go with a 48 hour fast if I get any pain, though my adhesion pain is such a specific pain that I know immediately what it is.

orangeflutie Wed 17-Jul-13 16:34:14


yamsareyammy Wed 17-Jul-13 16:28:02

Could have or should have added, that I think I ended up seeing a consultant, cant remember if it was the same one each time, 3 times in total.
On the third occasion, both of us were fed up with the situation.
Basically he or she said that there was a 50% chance of the pain being due to adhesions.
Did I want to be opened up to find out, even though the chance of it being that, was 50%.
I said yes.
This happened 25 years ago. Not sure if everything would be the same nowadays.

orangeflutie Wed 17-Jul-13 16:17:09

JoFlow yes I do worry that if it's adhesions causing my pain, they may get worse. For this reason I asked my doctor to refer me back to gynae as well as physio as the treatment process takes so long.

And the last question I totally identify with. The pain I have moves around sometes on an almost hourly basis and varies in severity. Some days it's so slight I think I must be making a fuss about nothing and others days it's back with a vengence and I have to resort to heavy duty painkillers. I've seen my doctor twice in the last months and described to her how the pain moves and varies and it definitely makes diagnosis a problem. When I first saw her I worried that she thought I was making things up because of the inconsistencies.

JohFlow Wed 17-Jul-13 14:36:14

It does make sense Yams.

You make some pertinent points.

If I may; I would like to pull two ideas out of your comments and ask the group....

1.) Are you worried that your adhesive pain will get worse/re-appear if you have been recently treated?

2.) What effect does this worry have on you?

3.) Do you believe that the variable nature of adhesive pain makes it more difficult for others to empathise/diagnose you?


yamsareyammy Wed 17-Jul-13 14:18:47

Again, not sure if my experience is of any use to anyone else.
Mine were on the inside, so to speak, of my appendix scar.
In my body, attached in a large mass to the scar under the skin? Not sure of that makes sense or not.
The surgeon was able to get rid of the ball of adhhesions, from what I can remember of what he said.
He did say that I was a susceptible person for this to happen.
I do feel, that if the pains were to happen again, from any other surgery I have had in my life[3 other operations for various things, all in the general tummy area], that I will recognise what they are eventually, next time.

The 4 or 5 years of pain were not pleasant. I was still able to work, but they ranged from, nearly needing to go home, to fleeting. And varied in where they were to, very much so.
And varied in hardly getting them one week, to being a right nuisance for much of a week.

I think, also, it gets that some people stuggle to believe you. They think, well how can a pain be so variable in nature.
Fortuneately for me, once I was pain free after the operation, they didnt have much choice but to believe me.

So sorry to hear that others have it so much worse than I did.

JohFlow Wed 17-Jul-13 14:05:41

Welcome 'Yam', 'Orange' and 'Bread and Jam' - excuse my rubbish humour lol but sounds like a perfect summer pudding grin

Thank you so much for your comments.

Yam - Adhesions are a common reaction to surgery (varies with surgery - but can be up to 90% in some cases) , infection or illness. Some people are very lucky and do not have any internal attachments which cause pain. Others (like us) can have anything ranging from a little intermittent pain to really debilitating symptoms which can affect quality of life. Some people's adhesions do not seem to get worse over time. There are some medical experts that refer to 'Adhesive Disease'. This generally refers to having adhesions with possible worsening/change over time. With the latter re-admission to hospital is unfortunately common.

It is of concern to me that some people can suffer with adhesive pain for years before it is recognised and treated. Some doctors do believe that the relationship between adhesions and pain is tentative, but if you ask sufferers there is little doubt in their minds. Pain (in medical fields) is generally associated with stretching/distortion of organs via adhesions or nerve tissue being enmeshed in the scar tissue.

Orange - aren't scans rubbish at finding adhesions! Nothing showed up on mine. Felt like a bit of a waste of time when I was already bothered. Laparoscopy is better (as you say) for seeing but it not without its complications. Sometimes knowing what is causing the pain (and consequently getting it treated) can reduce some of the pain by way of reduction in stress or separation of banding. Good luck with your scans and hopefully treatment is around the corner.

Bread and Jam - Sounds like you have had a tough time. And yes our symptoms are similar. I can't help feeling that you have been let down in your treatment and subsequent pain management. Have you made your feelings known to your healthcare providers? Since your operations seems that your quality of life and mobility is more restricted (same here). Are you able to work?

I have found Lyrica good for about 75% of my pain - but had to come off it because it made me as 'thick as concrete' confused. I thought I was a little left of centre on it ; but my family said that I was more 'full left' lol. I've made my mind to tolerate some of the pain rather than miss out on family life. It difficult when you have to make a choice between being pain free and being available for those around you.

I think there are plenty of men and women with similar symptoms to ours. It shouldn't feel like a taboo. I hope that we can continue to support each other here.

BreadAndJamForFrances Wed 17-Jul-13 02:01:44

Hi...I have adhesions and exactly the same pain and symptoms as JohFlow.
I had a C-section in 2002 and another in 2003 due to breech babies. Whilst I was being sewn up after the 2nd I was told I had a large number of adhesions.
The second C-Section was not sewn together properly and was an open wound on 1/3 of the scar. I asked to be taken back into hospital to have it re-sewn, but was refused. It eventually healed after 8 weeks but by 3 months I had developed a large hernia. This was operated on 6 months later, by which time it was the size of a large grapefruit and very painful.

I was given a hernia repair using mesh, but this was only sewn on three sides not all four, so the mesh moved and 9 months later I had a massive repair operation where as much mesh, scar tissue and adhesions were removed as possible, but, some of the mesh has attached to my bowel and cannot be removed without taking bowel with it, so has to be left.

My muscles have been pulled together tightly and overlapped to give strength, but this means that I get pain if I reach up, sit or lie with my hands above my head, or lie flat for more than a few minutes. I cannot lie on my left side without pain, and will never be able to lie on my front again as it is incredibly painful. Each time I cough or sneeze or stand up quickly, I get an awful ripping feeling which takes my breath away. I also get random stabbing pains, a constant, dull, throbbing ache and waves of pain. It is worse when exercising, eg. walking uphill or putting washing on the line. I cannot carry shopping bags, vacuum the carpet or reach things of a shelf without a lot of pain and I worry that the hernia will come back.

Last year, after lots of investigations with doctors who didn't believe I could still be in pain 8 years later, I was referred to pain clinic. I was diagnosed with Neuropathic pain, nerve and muscle damage. I have been taking Lyrica which has helped some, but only a small dose as I was getting very tired on it (just diagnosed with diabetes though, so probably not the Lyrica after all!) and Versatis pain patches which numb the scar. These have been brilliant and really work on surface pain, my clothes used to feel scratchy and uncomfortable against the scar. I am now on the waiting list to have steroid injections into the scar to try and stop the pain completely. I really hope this will work, I hate taking tablets and would love to feel normal again.

Also, I need a hysterectomy but cannot have it because the consultant thinks I would end up with more adhesions, and more pain, which he will not risk.

I am feeling pretty fed up about this, especially with my recent diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.....I had no health problems before the C-sections, now I also have IBS and rattle with the amount of pills I take each day.

I am glad to have found this thread, I have never heard of anyone else with similar problems to mine. I hope everyone finds a treatment that works for them thanks

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