5 Things Your Doctor May Not Know About Diastasis Recti

5 Things-Doc-DR

Diastasis recti is a common, yet rarely diagnosed, condition that can contribute to multiple medical conditions. In short, diastasis recti is a separation of the abdominal wall at the linea alba – the connective tissue that runs down the center of your abdomen, connecting all your core muscles. If you would like to learn more about this condition, click here.

This condition is widely under-diagnosed; as a result, you may not get the information you need from your physician. In our experience as Core Rehab Specialists™, we’ve learned there are 5 main things your doctor may not address related to diastasis recti.

1.) Your doctor may not consider checking you for a diastasis unless you request it.

Checking for diastasis in clients is not a normal medical evaluation or treatment plan for most physicians – even when there is clearly a weak core, back pain or instability. Historically, very little information is provided in medical school and even physical therapy school about this condition. Even then, most medical professionals do not have up to date palpation skills (the ability to feel for muscular abnormalities with your hands) to accurately diagnose diastasis recti. If you think you may have this condition, you can learn how to check yourself in this video.

Additionally, until recently there has not been a clear and effective treatment plan for diastasis recti. This discourages physicians to point out an issue that they have limited options to help treat. The Tummy Team is determined to change this by offering professional training for medical and fitness professionals. We are also working toward making a diastasis recti check a standard of practice for all prenatal and postpartum women, or any client (regardless of age or sex) that present symptoms of low back pain, pelvic instability and pelvic floor issues.

2. Diastasis recti is not normal. 

Because diastasis recti has become so prevalent in our culture, it is often mistaken for a normal condition. Your abdominal wall was designed to stretch a little, but it should not remain stretched. If the stretching is severe (more than 2 fingers) and long-standing, then it will cause ongoing medical issues and needs to be addressed. Remember: common and normal are not the same thing.

3. Diastasis recti does not require surgery.

Because diastasis looks a lot like a hernia, it is very common for physicians to recommend surgery as the only option for treatment. However, since in most cases a diastasis is not life-threatening (like a hernia can be), it is not considered medically necessary by insurance companies. For this reason, patients are encouraged to seek plastic surgery and pay out of pocket for a cosmetic tummy tuck. The truth is, diastasis recti is a stretch that comes from muscle weakness, posture imbalance, and poor stabilization strategies. All of this can be reversed with the proper core rehabilitation. Not only is surgery unnecessary, but in most cases, it is not effective because the surgery does nothing to strengthen a muscle, change the alignment or retrain movement strategies – all of which led the problem in the first place.

4. Diastasis recti can contribute to chronic medical conditions.

A separated abdominal wall lacks the integrity to properly stabilize your spine, support your internal organs or hold your pelvic organs. This can lead to back pain, pelvic instability, constipation, pelvic floor dysfunction (incontinence, bladder or uterine prolapse), and much more. If we do not address how the core affects these conditions, then we are missing the key links to healing. It is much more common to be prescribed medication and traditional fitness or therapy strategies than to address these issues with functional core rehabilitation.

5. Traditional core exercises cannot fix diastasis recti.

When physicians do identify a diastasis linked to a weak abdominal wall, they encourage traditional core exercises such as crunches, sit-ups, and planks to strengthen the core. Unfortunately, what is not understood is that crunches and sit-ups contribute to the position and pressure on the connective tissue which created a separation in the first place. Planks typically reinforce bracing and bulging of the abdominal muscles and the gravity increases organ pressure on the weakened connective tissue.

Learn more about Tummy-Safe Fitness

Upright and elongating core work that will target the internal corset muscles of the abdominals is the way to rebuild the core. But this is useless if the muscles are not then used functionally and consistently throughout the day. It is this functional, consistent use of the core that The Tummy Team specializes in.

If you think you may be suffering from diastasis recti or chronic core weakness, we can help you! We offer many effective online courses which allow our specialists to work with people all over the world. If you’re in the area, come see our Core Rehab Specialists™ in person at our clinic in Camas, WA.


9 responses to “5 Things Your Doctor May Not Know About Diastasis Recti”

  1. Janelle R Kristian says:

    I would like to order a rehab splint … do you offer any coupons to new customers?

  2. Paul Taylor says:

    Should a general practitioner be able to diagnose Diastasis recti? Please reply.



  3. TheTummyTeam says:

    Hi Paul,

    I wish I could give you a simple answer, but it’s a challenge. Though many physicians are aware of diastasis recti (DR), they don’t necessarily have the palpation skills to accurately diagnose it, and many think it’s simply a cosmetic issue and therefore don’t have treatment for it (other than recommending cosmetic surgery). The Tummy Team works with a variety of professionals who are skilled in this, so there’s not necessarily one field that excels, but rather individual clinicians that do.

    My recommendation would be to find someone – regardless of their field – who regularly works with patients with DR. This could be a GP, fitness professional, chiropractor, or a PT that works in core rehab. I would start to ask around or start googling local DR treatment. If a clinician goes to the trouble of listing DR as one of the things you can see them for, it means they are confident enough at least to diagnose it and refer out to a specialist.

    We do have several Tummy Team Trained Practitioners and Apprentices. Perhaps you are within driving distance of one. Could you tell me where you are located?

  4. Paul Taylor says:

    I was asking because I noticed a budge in my abdomen and thought it was hernia. I filed a workers compensation claim and saw a general practitioner at a clinic five times before a surgeon told me what it was and that surgery was not needed. This was a total of six visits when I believe the first “doctor” should have been able do tell me what it was on the first visit without scheduling more. When I asked the surgeon why the first “doctor” did not come up with the same diagnosis he said it’s because she’s not a surgeon. Perhaps she missed a few day of medical school.

    • TheTummyTeam says:

      I’m sorry that was your experience. It’s unfortunately pretty common. Medical school actually has very little training on diastasis, and what they do have is quite outdated. That’s mostly because GP’s think it’s purely a cosmetic issue and so not worth their time. Additionally, diastasis often gets misdiagnosed as a hernia – even by surgeons. Even physical therapy training on diastasis is still quite limited. But you can find specialists (like us) who have been successfully treating hernias, diastasis and other common core issues for years. We’d love to work with you if you are interested.

  5. Molly says:

    I have had 2 hernia operations and 4 hernias. This is a result of diastas recti. I am at a point I am very uncomfortable in my ab area and back. I’m cannot believe I wouldn’t be considered medically necessary. This is NOT a cosmetic issue it is a medical one. My general surgeon who performed my hernia repairs referred me to a plastic surgeon. They won’t even see me without a $100 deposit down. When can this diastases recti surgery be covered? It is not for cosmetic reasons I’m starting to feel painful and uncomfortable. I was told, and through my research that diastases recti causes hernias. I have had for funny is now. Please help me

  6. Molly says:

    I posted without reading my whole paragraph. At the end of the paragraph it should say I have had four hernias now

    • TheTummyTeam says:

      I am so sorry for all the discomfort you are in. I wish every MD and surgeon knew what we know about treating diastasis and hernias. We do know quite a few doctors and surgeons who are more aware of non-surgical treatment, but it’s usually the exception; not the norm.
      However, we can absolutely help you heal. Our online programs are just as effective as coming into our clinic. They are thorough and take you through a step-by-step process to strengthen your core, work on posture, close the gap, and set you up with lifestyle tools to keep it healed. I would highly recommend an Abdominal Splint and our Core Foundations Program – both of which will be on sale for Mother’s Day.

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