How to spot adhesion symptoms

Adhesions are fibrous scar tissue that binds together two anatomic surfaces within the body that should not be connected. An adhesion can cause painful symptoms by pulling on the nerves within the scar tissue or by pulling on an organ. The pain usually occurs during stretching, exercising or deep breathing. However, most adhesions go undiagnosed because they do not cause symptoms and are not life threatening. When the pain caused by an adhesion seriously disrupts a person’s life, doctors may operate using lysis, laparoscopy or laparotomy.

Are you having severe pain when you stretch, exercise, eat or breathe deeply? This could be a symptom of an adhesion.

Did you ever have an injury or surgery in the area where you are experiencing pain? Adhesions are usually caused by surgery and inflammation, although occasionally people are born with them. Painful symptoms can occur years after a surgery or injury. If you are experiencing severe pain where you had an injury you should speak to your doctor.

Are you experiencing pain during intercourse? Adhesions that involve the vagina or uterus can cause this pain. Seek advice from your gynecologist.

Have you experienced waves of cramp like pain in your stomach? Is it sometimes worse when you eat food? Does the pain cause you to vomit? Does vomiting relieve your pain? Does your stomach become tender and bloat? These could be signs of a small bowel obstruction caused by adhesions and is a surgical emergency. If you have these severe symptoms, not accompanied by high fever, you should seek emergency medical advice.

Seek emergency medical help if abdominal pain becomes constant and severe, your belly grows, and all gas and bowel movements stop. These could be symptoms of a bowel obstruction caused by adhesions.

Are you suffering from infertility? Adhesions can block the ends of the Fallopian tubes.

Are you developing glaucoma? Adhesions located in the eyes can cause glaucoma. Adhesions around the heart can cause pericardia.


Up to 94% of the women who have a gynaecologic surgery, such as a Cesarean section, hysterectomy or myomectomy will have adhesions. Avoid doing too much after an injury or surgery. Rest as the doctor ordered to minimise your risk.


If you have had an abdominal hysterectomy you should know that bowel obstructions from adhesions are common. Seek medical help if you experience severe pain, bloating and cannot pass gas or bowel movements.

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About the Author

Julia Fuller began her professional writing career eight years ago covering special-needs adoption. She holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from Marywood College, is co-owner of GJF Rental Properties as well as a livestock and grain crop farm. She worked for the United States Postal Service and a national income tax service.