The rectus abdominis muscle runs vertically down the middle of the abdomen. Diastasis recti is a condition where the muscles separate into a right and left side of the abdomen. The condition occurs frequently in pregnant women and newborn babies. The diastasis recti appears like a ridge that runs from the bottom of the breastbone to the naval area and protrudes when straining the muscle. Although the condition resolves itself over time, some treatment options exist.
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Pregnant women who experience diastasis rectus do not usually need treatment to resolve the condition. Infants who are born with the condition do not need any treatments either. The majority of babies with diastasis recti have no difficulty with the muscular abnormality and as the child grows, the separated muscles rejoin, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
At times, a portion of intestinal tissue traps in the space between the muscles. This is referred to as a hernia. A hernia can be seen protruding under the skin, especially with pressure on it, such as coughing or straining. The hernia might strangulate, or become trapped, and cause redness on the skin, pain and nausea and vomiting. A strangulated hernia requires immediate surgery, according to Medline Plus.
Although the condition does not require surgery, some surgeons choose to close the separation while performing an abdominoplasty, also called a tummy tuck. The surgeon uses a suture to bring the left and right sides of the abdominal muscles together.
Individuals with diastasis recti can perform exercises targeted to help narrow the separation between the muscles. A regular sit up may put increased pressure on the muscles and worsen the condition. To ease the muscles together, individuals lie on the back with feet flat on the floor and the knees bent. After placing the hands on the abdomen with the finger pointing toward the lower body, exhale and raise the head off the floor. The fingers press down in into the abdomen to help push the muscles together. Repeat the exercise daily until the separation decreases.